Motor vehicle accidents can lead to a range of injuries, and among the most common are soft tissue injuries. These injuries affect the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the body and can be quite painful and debilitating.
Knowing some common soft tissue injuries that can occur after a motor vehicle accident is an important part of driver safety.
Whiplash is perhaps the most well-known soft tissue injury associated with car accidents. It typically occurs when the head and neck are suddenly jerked forward and then backward. This may cause neck pain, stiffness, headaches and even shoulder or upper back discomfort.
Strains and sprains
Strains and sprains can affect various parts of the body, including the back, shoulders and limbs. These injuries happen when the muscles or ligaments stretch or tear during the accident.
Contusions, or bruises, can occur when the body impacts parts of the car’s interior during an accident. While not always serious, they can be painful and may take some time to heal.
Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae, small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints. It can develop in the shoulders, elbows or hips following an accident. Symptoms include pain, swelling and tenderness around the affected joint.
In more severe accidents, herniated discs can occur. This happens when the soft inner core of a spinal disc protrudes through the tough outer layer, putting pressure on nearby nerves.
Rotator cuff injuries
The shoulder’s rotator cuff can sustain injuries during a car accident, leading to pain and limited range of motion. Physical therapy and sometimes surgery may be necessary for severe cases.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that car crashes lead to 4 million emergency room visits each year. Many of the resulting hospitalizations are due to soft tissue injuries that can easily occur during a motor vehicle accident.