How Should I Handle Joint Pain after a Car Accident?
Car accidents cause a range of personal injuries from minor cuts and lacerations that heal on their own within a few weeks to traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that often take weeks, months, or more for full recovery and may cause permanent physical and cognitive impairments. Joint injuries are another common injury associated with car accidents, and although they may not be life-threatening, they can have a significant impact on your ability to carry out regular life, work, and physical activities, particularly if you are suffering from chronic pain and discomfort. In addition, the costs associated with this type of injury can accumulate very quickly if you need any imaging tests performed or require physical therapy or any other type of ongoing medical care. If you are suffering from a joint injury following a car accident, it is in your best interest to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
What Are Joint Injuries?
Basically, a joint is a part of the body where two bones connect. Ligaments and other fibrous tissue connect the two bones, and tendons connect muscle to the bone or cartilage. There are six types of joints in the human body, including ball and socket joints, hinge joints, condyloid joints, pivot joints, gliding joints, and saddle joints. Any type of blunt force trauma can cause a joint injury, and car accidents are one of the most common causes of this type of injury. Oftentimes, the body will instinctively try to brace itself for the force of the impact by bending or twisting the arms, legs, back, and pelvis area. These movements, combined with the force of the impact, can cause damage to the joints, tendons, and ligaments.
Unfortunately, because the symptoms of joint injuries may not always appear right away, people do not always seek immediate medical treatment until the injury has gotten worse, and the pain has become much more severe. Even if you do not experience pain or other symptoms immediately following a car accident, it is important that you are examined by a health care professional as soon as possible. In addition to getting an accurate diagnosis of your injury and the necessary treatment, this will ensure that you are able to provide medical records if you pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.
What Is Post-traumatic Arthritis?
Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint, which can cause a range of symptoms, including pain, swelling, and joint stiffness. Oftentimes, arthritis is the result of many years of wear and tear. Post-traumatic arthritis occurs when your joint becomes inflamed after experiencing a trauma, such as a car accident. You can also develop post-traumatic arthritis if you suffered a fracture, and the bone healed out of place or if the broken bone causes a tear in the ligament. Depending on the nature and severity of the accident, you may recover from post-traumatic arthritis within a few months. Even if the joint injury heals, trauma to a joint can increase the likelihood of developing arthritis in the future. Exercise, physical therapy, and certain lifestyle changes are often part of an effective recovery plan. In more severe cases, you may require surgery if you are suffering from chronic pain or the injury is having a negative impact on your quality of life.
To diagnose post-traumatic arthritis, your health care provider will likely order one or more of the following tests:
- X-ray: This will confirm whether there is any damage to the bones in the joint, and the extent of the damage.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test will provide a more detailed image of the damage to the joint, as well as the area around the joint.
- CT scan: If your health care provider recommends surgery, a CT scan will show the extent of the damage to the joint, as well as a detailed image of your bones and the surrounding tissue.
What Are Some of the Common Treatment Options for Joint Pain?
There are a number of treatment options available for joint pain, and the preferred treatment will depend on the severity of your injury. The following are examples of some of the most common treatments for joint pain after a car accident:
- Bracing: Your doctor may recommend that you wear a brace in conjunction with rest, to help with the healing process. In addition to providing stability, a brace will help decrease movement in the joint. Your doctor will provide instruction on how to wear the brace, and how often. For example, some braces should be worn only at night, and some should be worn during the day when you are moving around more. Others should be worn at all times if the injury is more severe.
- Joint injections: Most joint pain is caused by inflammation. A common treatment for this type of pain is a cortisone shot injected directly into the affected joint. In addition to reducing the inflammation and pain, this will help increase mobility. Although you may experience some pain and discomfort at the injection site during the first 24 to 48 hours, you should experience pain relief shortly after that and the pain relief should last for several months. Some joint pain is nerve based, in which case your doctor may recommend a nerve block, which is injected into the nerve in the spine that aligns with the joint pain.
- Physical therapy: Working with a trained physical therapist can help you increase your mobility and range of motion in the joint, as well as strengthen the surrounding muscles and tendons. Therapy may include a range of targeted exercises, massage, and the use of heat or cold to reduce pain.
- Medication: Depending on the severity of the pain you are experiencing, your doctor may prescribe medications ranging from muscle relaxers, antidepressants if you are having trouble sleeping, or medication that can help with nerve pain.
- RICE method: This abbreviation stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, and is a treatment protocol that is commonly used for joint pain. Not only does this reduce inflammation, but also it increases blood flow to the joint, which can help improve symptoms and help you recover more quickly.
Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Advocate for Clients with Joint Injuries
If you are suffering from joint pain after being involved in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact the Washington DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Our dedicated legal team will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who is responsible for causing the accident. We will explain every step of the claims process and address all your questions and concerns. We will continue to fight for you until we secure full and fair financial compensation for your injuries. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.