Physiotherapy After A Car Accident

A car accident can be a distressing experience - one minute you’re going about your business, commuting to work or going to the shops, and the next minute you’ve been rear-ended and your day is ruined. 64% of Australians surveyed in 2021 reported being in at least one car accident, so you are far from alone. While improved safety technology is making our roads safer every day, it’s important to stay vigilant and take the right steps to recover if you’ve been in an accident.

There is a range of injuries that a sudden deceleration from a car accident can cause to your body, including fractures and soft tissue damage such as muscle strains and damage to joints or ligaments. Whiplash is one of the most common injuries as a result of a car crash. 

Common injuries from a car crash include:

  • Fractures
  • Strains
  • Sprains
  • Neck injuries (such as muscle spasms or damage to bone structure)
  • Whiplash
  • Back pain
  • Chest injuries
  • Bruises
  • Spinal injuries such as a disc bulge

How a physiotherapist can help

After a crash, you take your car down to the mechanic for an assessment. They’ll check the wheel alignment, engine, and body of the car to make sure that there are no underlying issues and that everything is still where it should be and doing what it should be doing. But you need to do just the same thing with your body! A physiotherapist will act like a mechanic, and they can assess you to make sure that you are in good shape. They can address any aches and pains and assemble a treatment plan to improve your symptoms if required.

If you have any of the common injuries listed above, physiotherapists can provide support and injury rehabilitation services, helping you to know how to manage the pain caused by the injury, how to exercise safely, and whether it is safe to return to your regular activities without causing any further damage. 

Additionally, you might feel some uncertainty or anxiety about the changes that have occurred in your body, wondering what’s gone wrong or how long it might take to heal. Physiotherapists can explain your injury to you and help you to understand the root cause of your pain, as well as provide pain management support.

Whiplash management

Physiotherapists can assist with whiplash management after a car crash. Whiplash is named after the cracking of a whip, and it occurs after the neck suddenly moves backwards and forwards, which is typical after rear-end collisions. This rapid movement can cause soft tissue damage to the tendons, muscles and other structures of the neck. They can become overstretched or strained, leading to neck pain, and often referred pain in the form of headaches. Other symptoms of whiplash include stiffness, swelling, tenderness and reduced mobility. Some whiplash symptoms resolve after a few days, but in other cases, the pain may last for weeks or months following the initial injury. 

A physiotherapist can provide assessment after a whiplash injury and advise on a recovery plan, as well as provide assistance with symptom management. They can perform massages to reduce tension in soft tissues, and apply heat and cold to aid in the management of pain and inflammation. They can also provide advice about the correct posture and positioning of your neck for recovery to prevent further damage and ease any pain that may be caused by muscle strain.

Back pain

A car crash can cause a variety of potential issues with your back, such as a disc bulge or lumbar sprain. Overstretching or tearing of muscles in the back can often occur, as well as tightness and muscle spasms that can make for a painful back. Physiotherapists can assist you with the management of this back pain, identifying the location and likely cause of the problem, and helping you to avoid any harmful movements and promote healing wherever possible.

Bruised ribs

Bruised ribs are caused by a direct blow to the chest. They can cause chest pain that varies in quality and severity, from mild to severe. It can impact on activities such as sleeping, lying down, running, coughing and even breathing. Movement may be restricted as bending or twisting the torso can lead to pain. Physiotherapists can advise on a safe plan to return to activity and provide treatments such as dry needling, protective gear, taping, gentle stretches, and advice on lifestyle and activity modifications to minimise pain and discomfort.

We often find pain, after traumatic events like a car crash, can persist well beyond the timeframe for tissue healing. On the surface this seems quite strange! Why would you have lingering symptoms if the underlying tissue has fully healed? Well, we are now starting to uncover some of the answer. 

In some respects, humans are like cars and in other respects we are quite different. We are similar in that we both have mechanical and structural components that require fixing. However, unlike a car a human has a complex nervous system integrated throughout the body. So while our tissues heal and ‘forget’ the accident, the nervous system ‘remembers’ and persists in a state of hypersensitivity. Another way to think about this is by way of analogy. If we perform bicep curls for a long period of time, our muscles adapt and we get better at bicep curls. If we experience pain for a long period of time, our nervous system similarly adapts and gets ‘better at producing pain’. (This is overly simplified and not strictly correct, but it is, I think, near-enough to be helpful). 

Physiotherapists are experts, not just in injury management, but also in pain management. We can guide you through the process from start to finish with the knowledge and experience to get you back to your physical best! 



Why Choose Sycamore Health?

At Sycamore Health we provide good natured, friendly and empathetic service to help you get back on your best after a car accident. We will take the time to find out what you need and devise an individualised plan to help aid in your recovery. There are a range of benefits to choosing Sycamore:

Two Convenient Locations in Morayfield and Sippy Downs: our clinics are ideally located in the heart of Morayfield and Sippy Downs.

Online bookings: our online booking system is easy to navigate and lets you book your appointments at any time.

Same-day appointments: we understand that sometimes you need to see us as soon as possible, so we reserve several appointments each day for those who require urgent assistance.

Private treatments: to ensure you are comfortable, all treatment is provided one-on-one with your physiotherapist in private rooms.

A range of physiotherapy approaches: our physiotherapists employ a range of approaches and services, including hands-on treatment, tailored advice, gym-based rehabilitation, and customised home exercise programs.

Highly-trained physiotherapists: our team of physiotherapists are all fully qualified and highly skilled.

Tailored therapies: we know that your knee pain is unique to you, so we make sure our approach is based on your specific situation.

Owner / MSK Physiotherapist
BPhty (Hons I), APAM

Physiotherapist James Sikkema

MSK Physiotherapist
MPhty.St, BMin, APAM

Physiotherapist Andrew Edwards

MSK Physiotherapist
BExSci, BPhty, GDip Div, APAM

Physiotherapist Mitch Robinson

MSK Physiotherapist
BPhysio, APAM

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