Car accidents can cause serious injuries even when you are properly restrained while wearing your seat belt. While a seat belt is designed to prevent you from being ejected from the vehicle during a crash, it can only do so much to prevent your body from experiencing an injury. Arm injuries are common because of how they may get jostled around or how we use them to brace for impact. You may not have any obvious scrapes or bruises, but it is possible to damage the bones, muscles, and other soft tissues that lead to elbow pain after a car accident. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, visit an Atlanta orthopedics center that specializes in diagnosing and treating car accident injuries.
How a Car Accident Can Affect Your Elbow
In the hours after a car accident, you may not even experience a lot of pain. That’s because your body’s natural response to this type of traumatic event sends adrenaline through your body that can actually mask pain symptoms leading to delayed injuries from car accidents. Once your adrenaline wears off, however, you might start to notice soreness, aching, and pain. When you’re in a car accident, your natural reaction may be to brace yourself with your hands on the steering wheel, dashboard, or another part of the car. The force of impact can send really jolt your arms when braced in this type of position, especially if your elbows are locked. It is also possible for your arm or elbow to hit the window or dashboard, causing an injury.
Common Elbow Injuries
While many people associate car accident injuries with whiplash and back pain, elbow injuries can also occur and affect your arm mobility. Here are a few examples of the types of common elbow injuries with a car accident that may lead you to visit an Atlanta orthopedics clinic.
An elbow sprain involves injury to the ligaments that support the elbow joint. The force of impact from the accident can cause your arm and elbow to twist or bend uncomfortably, overstretching these ligaments. When the ligament is strained you will likely experience elbow pain, as well as difficulty when bending and straightening your arm. Inflammation and swelling are also common with an elbow sprain, and you may even notice redness or bruising in the area.
The elbow joint connects the bone of the upper arm, called the humerus, and the forearm bones, called the radius and ulna. These three bones come together in the elbow joint, and when there is serious trauma to the area it is possible for them to be dislocated. This may be caused by bracing your arms for the impact of the car accident with the arm fully extended, like catching yourself in a fall. When your elbow is dislocated you will not be able to bend your arm and will likely be experiencing severe pain and swelling.
An elbow fracture is another way of referring to a broken bone, which can occur in any of the three bones that make up the elbow joint. When one of these bones is fractured, it will need to be addressed by a medical professional in order to heal correctly and avoid any long-term damage or issues with mobility. Symptoms of an elbow fracture can include intense pain, inflammation, deep bruising, and loss of mobility.
Diagnosing and Treating Elbow Injuries after a Car Accident
In order to treat an elbow injury, your Atlanta orthopedic doctor will first need to diagnose the injury. Diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans are extremely beneficial in getting more information on this type of injury. These state-of-the-art diagnostic tests provide your doctor with a clearer picture of how the bones, muscles, and ligaments were affected by the accident and identify any potential fractures. Your orthopedic doctor will likely also want to check for any damage to the nerves or arteries in your elbow.
After determining a diagnosis, your doctor will develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses your specific injury and needs. Some elbow injuries, like an elbow sprain, may be treated with non-invasive treatment options to provide stability in the area and also improve mobility. For more severe injuries, like a dislocation or fracture, you may need surgical intervention from an orthopedic surgeon.
AICA is an Atlanta orthopedics treatment center that addresses all types of car accident injuries. Our team of orthopedic doctors, chiropractors, neurologists, physical therapists, and surgeons work together to provide you with the most appropriate treatment plan that helps you heal and recover from your car accident injury.