Aside from muscle strains, joint injuries are probably the most common injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. Joint pain will likely improve over six to eight weeks, but it might even linger for years or even a lifetime. Victims are often referred for treatment to orthopedists by their primary care physicians. Some of the most common joint injuries suffered by car accident victims involve:
- The neck and back
- Wrists and hands
Neck and back injuries
Injuries to the neck and back are very similar. Both often involve the cervical discs in either the neck or the lumbar spine in the lower back. These discs are located between each vertebra in the spine. If x-rays are taken and a fracture is ruled out, victims are usually treated conservatively with physical therapy. If the pain persists, MRI studies might be ordered, and a disc injury in the form of a bulge or herniation might be diagnosed and treated.
Shoulder injuries resulting from auto accidents are commonly associated with side impacts. Injuries might range from:
- Bruising, sprains and strains
- Shoulder separations
- Rotator cuff tears
It’s likely that the victim will be treated conservatively and prescribed a course of physical therapy before a CT scan or MRI is ordered. A torn rotator cuff, tendon or muscle may require surgery. Recovery from shoulder surgery has often been described as difficult and painful. Many people don’t completely recover from a shoulder injury. Instead, they only reach a certain point of medical improvement.
Wrists and hands
Because the hands are usually exposed and unrestrained when driving an automobile, it’s no surprise that wrist and hand joints are frequently injured from something inside of a vehicle. That trauma is usually the result of the sheer force of one vehicle crashing into another vehicle. Common wrist and hand joint injuries suffered in auto accidents may include:
- Ligament sprains and tears
- Joint dislocations that are often located in the middle knuckle of a finger
- Boxer’s fractures below the middle knuckle of a finger
- A fractured radius bone in the wrist
The bone structure of the wrist and hand is incredibly complex. Almost all wrist and hand injuries require reduction and immobilization. Some may even require surgery as soon as possible.
Knee injuries in car accidents can be caused in many different ways, but the most common scenario involves a side impact when a leg is thrown from side to side. Second to that are head-on impacts, when the driver’s knee strikes the dashboard. Common knee injuries suffered in auto accidents might include:
- A fractured kneecap
- Strained, sprained or torn ligaments
- Torn cartilage
- A torn patellar tendon
- A torn meniscus
Some of these injuries may be treated simply with a regimen of ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain while improving mobility. On the other hand, others might require physical therapy or surgery.
Most of us don’t realize how often we use our neck, back, shoulders, wrists, hands and knees until one or more of those complex joint systems are injured in an accident. If you’ve injured any of those joints as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, it may be a good idea to contact a knowledgeable and experienced DC personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the crash. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Thanks to our friend and contributors from Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their insight into auto accident practice.