The kinetic energy involved in the average car accident is staggering to consider. A vehicle going 30 miles per hour that is struck by another vehicle undergoes tremendous deceleration. In less than a foot, the vehicle and the passengers traveling in the vehicle lose all of their forward momentum. This causes the passengers to be exposed to momentary gravitational forces of over two tons. That type of extreme force can cause serious injury, especially to the soft tissues of the neck and back.
The spine is designed to deal with latitudinal, or up and down stress. When providing support to our bodies and holding us upright, it is a very strong mechanism. However, it is not designed to deal with longitudinal or sideways forces that can exceed 2000 pounds.
The sharp angular energies that occur during an auto accident cause the spine to move in ways that compromise its design. This unnatural movement stretches, tears, and compresses the delicate tissue that fills the spaces around and between the vertebrae of the spine. The result is a whole suite of injuries that are extremely painful and can remain symptomatic for weeks, months, or even years.
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When you’ve suffered back or neck injuries in a car accident you need to seek medical help as soon as possible. Your doctor is in the best position to diagnose and treat your condition. He or she will also prescribe therapies and medications that will alleviate your pain and get you back on the road to good health.
However, with your doctor’s permission, there are also natural remedies available to help ease the pain in your neck and back. After all, when it comes to pain, you need all the relief you can get.
1. Soothe With Heat
If you’re in pain, heat can be your best friend. The warmth of a heating pad, thermal wrap, or a nice hot shower can work wonders on your discomfort. Heat soothes injured tissues and blocks pain receptors. It increases blood flow to the area, which helps to flush away excess fluid and reduce swelling.
In addition, warmth simply feels good and contributes to overall relaxation, which is a good thing if you’ve been injured. Just remember not to overdo it. Fifteen minutes or so every few hours is usually sufficient to provide pain relief and an emotional boost.
2. Try Essential Oils
Essential oils are a distillation of the volatile aromatic compounds of various plants, herbs, and flowers. They are used in massage therapy and aromatherapy to promote relaxation and well-being. If you’ve ever been in the woods after a rain and taken a deep breath, you already have a good idea of what essential oils are capable of.
Essential oils not only smell good, they also have identifiable therapeutic properties. Specifically, certain essential oils including oil of rosemary and oil of peppermint, act to reduce the inflammation that surrounds injured tissues. They do this by increasing blood flow to the area that’s hurt, acting in much the same way that a hot shower or bath would. In fact, adding a few drops of an essential oil to a bath before you soak can increase the pain-relieving properties of the warm water.
A word of caution – consult an expert in aromatherapy before utilizing essential oils, as certain conditions are contraindicated. And never use essential oils full strength on your skin. Always place just a few drops in a carrier oil, or let your aromatherapist create the proper mixture for you.
3. A Massage Works Wonders
The healing powers of touch have been well documented. That’s why a good massage can bring about some serious pain relief. When injured muscles are palpated and massaged, blood flow increases to the area being manipulated. Like the process involved in heat and essential oils, this increase in blood reduces the inflammation that is contributing to your pain. A massage will also promote overall relaxation, which helps to reduce tension that can cut off blood flow to an injured area causing inflammation to increase.
Sleep is one of the main avenues to a full recovery. It is the body’s way to regenerate injured and damaged tissue. It is also the time that the body performs routine maintenance and repairs. When you sleep, your body produces hormones that are essential for a healthy immune system, growth, and energy production. Without enough sleep, these critical tasks remain incomplete and the damage to the body caused by everyday living goes unrepaired. That’s why you feel less than optimal when you don’t get enough sleep.
When you’re injured, the need for proper rest and sleep becomes even more critical. Not only is your body trying to repair everyday damage, it’s also trying to repair the damage caused by your car accident. When you miss sleep you prolong your discomfort by delaying the physical, emotional, and psychological repairs that need to be made before you can return to full health.
Our bodies need water to function. Water contains electrolytes, minerals, and is also a solvent. It helps break down the vitamins and other nutritional elements in the food we eat so that the body can utilize them.
Water makes up the plasma in our blood that allows red blood cells to circulate, carrying oxygen to our muscles and organs, and taking away carbon dioxide and waste in return. It provides the fluid that supports the interior of each of our cells. Take away water and all of this starts to break down.
When you’re injured, the need for adequate water becomes critical. The injured tissues in your body require greater blood flow to heal, due to acids and other waste material that need to be flushed away. Finally, damaged cells in the injured area are being replaced by fresh healthy cells. These new cells require intracellular fluid to form. Water provides for all of these functions and more.
If you’re not getting enough water after you’ve been injured, you’re slowing down the healing process. The longer it takes you to heal, the longer you’re going to have to put up with the discomfort and pain that your injury brings. So stay hydrated and get well that much sooner.
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