Trauma is one of the 3 most common causes of broken bones. During a traumatic event like a car accident, your body is placed under extreme stress, which can lead to significant injuries. If you suffer a fracture from a car accident, you need to take immediate action to find medical care and treatment.
Follow our guide to learn the primary signs and symptoms of a broken bone, why you need medical care and what the healing process looks like.
Car Accidents Are a Leading Cause of Broken Bones
A human bone breaks when the force exerted on it is stronger than the force it can bear. Car crashes are responsible for a high number of fractures because your body absorbs a large amount of impact during a collision. You could suffer a break from:
- Being thrown forward or backward in the car
- Being thrown out of the car
- Compressed during the collision
- Being hit with external objects
- Hitting hard objects (like the dash or the windshield) with a lot of force
- Bending or twisting your limbs in an abnormal way during the collision
Any bone in your body can break from a car accident. Common car crash fractures include lower legs and femurs, arms and wrists, clavicles, hips, ribs and facial or skull. Spine and neck fractures are also common from head-on and rear-end collisions.
Recognize the Signs and Symptoms
After you’ve been in a car crash, you may realize you have a fracture right away — a hallmark characteristic is severe pain at the site of injury. Along with intense pain, know additional signs and symptoms of broken bones:
- Pain that worsens with movement or touch
- Inability to bear weight on the injured area
- Redness, swelling and tenderness
- Bruising or discoloration
- Visible bone exposure
- Visible deformity
If you’re involved in a very serious high-impact car crash, you may suffer multiple fractures.
Seek Immediate Medical Care
A traumatic event like a car accident causes a massive surge of adrenaline in the body. Directly following a crash, this adrenaline may prevent you from immediately feeling pain or injuries — even significant injuries like broken bones. That’s why it’s important to seek medical care regardless of whether you feel hurt or not after an accident.
If you believe you have a fracture, seeking medical care is even more critical because fractures will not heal properly without medical attention. First, your doctor needs to take an X-ray to reveal the location of the fracture and the type of break. Fractures can range in severity from hairline fractures where the bone cracks without breaking completely to complete fractures where the bone breaks into several pieces. Additionally, in more serious cases the broken bone may puncture the skin or move out of alignment in the body.
The broken bone must be reset so that it heals in the correct position inside your body. Incorrectly set bones can cause deformities and loss of function in the area. Depending on the severity and location of the fracture, your doctor may manually reset your bone or reset it through surgery. If you need surgery, the surgeon will use pins, metal rods or screws to hold the broken bone or bone pieces in the correct position while they heal. Most likely, you’ll also need a cast or sling to stabilize the fracture during recovery.
Understand the Healing Process and Timeline
Bones heal themselves naturally, but the process will take several weeks to months. During recovery time, the broken bone needs to remain immobile and stabilized in the correct position to ensure it heals completely.
For you, that means you’ll have to limit movement of the injured area and modify your normal routines to accommodate a loss of mobility. You may have to take some time off work, especially if your job is physically demanding. You may also need help driving, running errands, performing personal care or doing chores around the house.
The average healing time is 6-8 weeks. After broken bones heal, you’ll probably have weakness and muscle loss in the affected area. Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy to help you regain strength, flexibility, range of motion and endurance.
Waiting for fractures to heal can be extremely frustrating or anxiety-inducing, especially if you’re worried about missing work, paying for medical expenses or just getting back to being active again. But rushing the healing process will only harm you in the long-term. Find a good support system and take care of your body during recovery. Rest as much as needed, hydrate and eat well to promote optimal healing conditions in the body.
Contact Integrity Spine and Orthopedics After a Car Accident
If you’ve been in a car accident, seek help from a medical center with experience diagnosing and treating car crash injuries like whiplash, concussions, soft tissue injuries and fractures. Our team of board-certified doctors specializes in orthopedic care and pain management for acute and chronic injuries.
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