Going to Urgent Care following auto accidents is very important. In my years of experience, I would say that most people know enough to go to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room if they are cut, bleeding or if they have a broken bone. However, car accidents are scary and confusing and often leave a person uncertain as to what they should do.
What most people forget to do is take pictures of their injuries. Why is this important, because if questions should arise later about your injuries, it is far better to have pictures and not need them, than to need them and discover that you never took any. Make sure to get pictures of any cuts or bruises before they heal and all evidence of your injury is lost.
Ice or Heat Treatment?
I have seen many highly educated doctors drop the ball here, even emergency rooms. Because of this, my advice is never use heat on a new injury. If your doctor told you to use heat instead of ice, you may want to call them and clarify it after reading this. From a legal standpoint, I do not want to interfere with your doctor’s care and treatment, so always follow their advice, but ask questions and if what they say does not make sense, then ask them to explain further.
When you strain a ligament or a muscle you create tears in the tissue. These will fill with fluid and create swelling. (Sometimes the swelling is deep in the muscle and you do not actually see it.) As a result, heat causes fluid to expand, so putting heat on a fresh injury like this will cause the swelling to increase and that swelling will tear the tissues further apart causing even more damage. Fortunately, you can’t go wrong with ice unless you are putting it over an area with frostbite, on an area with loss of sensation or numbness, or on an area of poor circulation (diabetic patients often have circulatory issues and should consult a doctor before use). Moreover, use caution with ice to prevent frost bite.
Remember, almost any professional athlete that gets injured, has ice supply right away. These are multimillion dollar athletes. Don’t you deserve the same care.
Seek the advice of a doctor if you have any questions at all. Heat is very beneficial after the swelling is gone. It will dilate the blood vessels and increase the circulation to the area. As a result, this will bring more oxygen to the tissues and promote faster healing. Remember, however, that heat will usually feel good as it stimulates the nerve endings on the skin, but the real test is 30-60 minutes later. If the pain starts to get worse, then you used heat too soon and should go back to icing. Again, do not use over areas of poor circulation, infection or cancer. Above all, always consult your doctor to make sure you are doing the right thing for your individual condition.
Following any traumatic injury, your body will need rest to recover. Many feel tired, because their bodies are using more energy to heal and have less energy for other activities.
Many times after an auto accident treatment, a doctor may use a soft or hard cervical collar to give your muscles a rest and chance to heal. Use caution however. The longer you wear a brace or support, the more your body will become dependent on it. In addition, when someone has a cast removed, they usually notice that the arm or leg is smaller than the other side because the muscles atrophied due to lack of use. Braces can be good in the short term, but you should be careful to get out of them as soon as possible.