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While we prefer not to think about it, a car accident can occur in the blink of an eye, with the actions of a negligent driver leaving us with everything from broken bones and lacerations to bruising and generalized pain.
Fortunately, we know that in the event something like this happens, we can be taken to a nearby hospital where we will be thoroughly examined by emergency room physicians who will ensure that we receive the necessary care and are not discharged prematurely, meaning before all of our ailments/injuries can be identified and treated.
Interestingly enough, a recently released study by researchers at the University of North Carolina reveals that many car accident victims are actually developing widespread constant pain “characterized by substantial suffering and functional loss” in the weeks after a crash, but are perhaps not receiving the level of care that they should.
As part of the study, the researchers examined the cases of 895 people who suffered injuries in motor vehicle crashes, and were taken to an area emergency room for evaluation and treatment for widespread pain before being discharged.
Here, the overwhelming majority of people evaluated after the accident indicated that their widespread pain had largely dissipated at six weeks out and had disappeared almost entirely at six months.
However, roughly 10 percent of people indicated that their widespread pain had not dissipated, but rather intensified at six weeks and remained constant — reaching intensity comparable to the pain felt immediately after the accident — at one year.
While the “biopsychosocial factors” behind the persistent widespread post-accident pain among this group remained unclear to researchers, they argued that, at the very least, the study highlights 1) how treating physicians need to pay closer attention to the existence of widespread pain in accident victims, and 2) how patients must be informed of the need to seek treatment if their pain fails to abate within a few weeks.
“We believe that this research indicates that doctors have to start treating these individuals with persistent widespread pain very early, and not wait for the pain to resolve in itself,” said one of the researchers.
This very interesting study also serves to underscore how in the often chaotic and fast-paced environment of the emergency room, physicians often fail to take the time needed to conduct a thorough patient exam, meaning they may miss symptoms of otherwise serious conditions thereby putting the patient in grave danger.
What are your thoughts on this study?
Source: MedPage Today, “Treat car crash pain early on, lest it linger,” Ed Susman, May 5, 2014