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Pain from auto injury can lead to post traumatic osteoarthritis

Post-traumatic osteoarthritis, where inflammation of the joint cartilage develops after a car accident, is not uncommon. For example, about 12% of all cases of osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, and ankle are preceded by some type of trauma or accident in America. A primary injury occurs at these joints, and then later on a debilitating form of osteoarthritis can develop in the same areas.

How does this happen?

Biomechanical factors such as car accident induced trauma, ligament laxity, joint instability are drivers for the development in osteoarthritis.  It is thought that micro-trauma around the joint activates an immune response causing inflammation.  This response triggers degeneration of cartilage and initiates new bone formation (often seen as bone spurs). As a result, the bones of the affected joint begin to rub against each other. This can produce pain, place high stress on the remaining joint cartilage, and can make the entire joint area unstable.

Unlike headaches or back pain, post-traumatic arthritis is not an immediate manifestation after an accident. It takes time for the erosion of the cartilage to occur. Early manifestations may be slight pain and stiffness in the affected area. This will usually increase over time.

To sum up, joint injury triggers a chronic remodeling process in cartilage and other joint tissues that ultimately manifests as osteoarthritis in a majority of the cases. Prevention of an over active inflammatory response may be the key to help reduce the chances of posttraumatic arthritis. Acupuncture is an excellent therapy to help with post-traumatic pain as researchers found that cytokines – molecules that help reduce inflammation – can be stimulated with acupuncture1. Naturopathic medicine aimed to reduce inflammation is also very helpful. Treatments are often tailored to individual’s needs. Common suggested protocol may include curcumin, omega 3s, bromelain.

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Acupuncture vs Pain Killers

Even a minor collision can have major effects on your health! When one vehicle is struck by another, thousands of pounds of force are exerted on the neck and spine. Whiplash occurs when the head and neck are thrown or “snapped” back and forth very quickly.

The result is injury to the ligaments, muscles, and discs of the neck and spine. Too many people who have been in a traumatic accidents do not receive the proper treatment. They go from the emergency room to the medical doctor’s office and do not have their mis-alignments, pinched nerves treated, strained muscles treated as many medical doctors do not recommend alternative care.

Traditional doctors would most likely recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, known as NSAIDs, to ease the pain. It is important to be aware of potential drawbacks, including greater risks of serious cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and kidney problems. The most common reactions are allergic reactions including swelling the face, wheezing, and hives. Another common reaction is stomach bleeding.

This may be the reason why over half of the accident victims never completely recover from their injuries and may live on pain killers for years or endure repeated surgery.

Acupuncture stimulates the flow of energy through the body’s meridians, correcting blockages in the central nervous system, promoting healing and delivering immediate pain relief. With acupuncture, pain is NOT ‘covered up’ or bandaged, like it would be with pain killers.

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Do you have pain from a car accident?

It’s been few days since you were in a car accident and the pain becomes worse. Why? Your muscles and ligaments get pulled and strained during the accident.  This will cause damage to them.  However you may not feel it right away.  What happens is an inflammation process occurs that swells the muscles and limits your motion.  This is to protect you immediately after a trauma.  However, this process isn’t necessary after a day and becomes worse over time.  The good news is-  soft tissue injury responds well to acupuncture.  One of the reasons is, aside from pain, someone in an auto accident has other conditions.  This includes sleeplessness, anxiety and stress.  Acupuncture works well with treating all these conditions.  On top of that, acupuncture helps increase the healing properties of soft tissue by directing the bodies natural energy towards it. Research shows that the sooner acupuncture is performed after an accident, the better.  Acupuncture and auto accidents is becoming a more accepted treatment.  This is evidenced as more automobile and health care insurance plans carry it.

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Common Post Car Accident Injuries

Whether it be a fender bender or a totaled car, car accidents bring serious damage. This damage is not just to the car but to the persons involved. These accidents cause various types of injuries to many parts of the body depending on the characteristics of the crash and the severity of the impact. One of the most common injuries are injuries to the head. These injuries are due to the head being hit or hitting an object forcefully. The head can suffer bruising, bleeding, swelling, and possible brain damage. Another one of the most common injuries one experiences after a car accident are injuries to the neck. For example, whiplash is fairly common with more mild car crashes, due to the car abruptly stopping or moving. However, other injuries such as a cervical dislocation or a disc injury can be more severe and longer lasting.

These specific injuries can also cause spinal injuries. If a bone fragment or ligament tore into a section of the spinal cord, this can cause loss of feeling or even function. Other injuries that car accidents can cause are back injuries. The most common back injuries are strains, herniated discs, and fractured vertebrae. These back injuries result in tremendous pain and loss of mobility. One factor that these injuries have in common is that most of them will not show up until days/weeks post accident or they may continue to persist long after an accident. Even though there is a such a wide range of injuries that can occur, it is critical to be evaluated by a doctor for any and all aches and pains.

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What is Whiplash?

Whiplash describes a range of injuries to the neck usually associated with a motor vehicle accident. The exact injury mechanism that causes whiplash is unknown. It is a combination of damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments and often a misalignment of the spine. The symptoms include, pain in the back and neck, referred pain into the shoulders, a pins and needles feeling in the arms and legs, headaches, decreased range of motion, tenderness, knotted muscles and cognitive issues such as, easily distracted or irritated. Whiplash symptoms can show up right after the crash, but often are not felt for a few days.

It has been said that the best way to treat whiplash and to prevent chronic pain in the future is movement. Any sort of movement can be difficult when you’re in pain. Both trigger point injections and acupuncture can help with this.
It is commonly known that acupuncture is great for helping with muscle stress, easing pain and to promote healing. Acupuncture stimulates the flow of fresh blood which helps move nutrients into the areas that need it to repair damage. The damage might take a longer time to heal without the help of acupuncture guiding the body to help itself.
Recovery after an accident takes time, even minor ones. Daily activities and things we want to do get put aside when people are in pain. Both of these treatment procedures will help to alleviate pain faster so that healing can begin. Without the discomfort of muscle knots and other soft tissue injuries, movement becomes easier and life can resume.

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Minor Impact, Major Injury

Injuries from car accidents varies. Many correlate the severity of the injury to the amount of damage that is done to the vehicle. For example, if the car was completely totaled then that person must be suffering some pretty severe injuries. However, if it was a minor crash and the cars involved were not very damaged or did not have any damage on them, naturally one relates this to minimal or no injuries at all. This logic, though it may be instinctive, is not true.

When one is involved in a car accident, no matter how big or small, our bodies react the same way. Our brain signals the release of adrenaline throughout our body. This hormone is released in times of stress and it activates the body’s fight-or- flight response. Thus, one’s heart rate increases, blood vessels dilate, oxygen is delivered faster, awareness increases, pain sensation decreases, and strength and performance heightens. When a vehicle collides with another vehicle, this response is triggered to any drivers or passengers involved. Therefore, with just a little crash the body can mask any pain that one might be feeling. In a car accident, the energy that is being put into the collision, must be exerted. If no damage is present on the receiving vehicle, then that energy must have been exerted to the driver and/or the passengers. Ultimately, one cannot compare the damage done to a vehicle with the severity of a coinciding injury. Thus, it is of the utmost importance to be evaluated post-accident. No matter how minor the impact of the collision was or how much damage was done to the vehicles involved, the injury one can potentially suffer is major.

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