While auto accidents can result in a lot of different kinds of injuries, some are more easily explained than others. One of the major dangers in rear end impacts or other kinds of collision impacts is damage to muscles and related tissues, including tendons and ligaments. The tendons and ligaments in the body attach to the muscles in various ways to help them move. There are many different ways that these tissues can be injured by the severe impact of a traffic accident. Understanding these has to do with examining how muscles work in the body.
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Contracting and Lengthening Muscles
Contrary to what many of us might expect, muscles are not just free-wheeling parts of the anatomy that push themselves into different shapes during exercise or any other kind of physical function. Instead, the muscles of the body operate according to a set of fixed attachments to bone and other tissues. Muscles are located in symmetrical groups called agonists and antagonists. When one muscle contracts, another one lengthens. This is how muscles move the bones in the body and accommodate different kinds of movement or motor activity.
Tendons and ligaments support the muscle groups. The hearty fibers of tendons connect bones and muscles, in order to allow the muscles to contract. Ligaments are another kind of fibrous tissue that attaches one bone to another in an elastic way that still permits correct muscle functioning.
Damage to either tendons and ligaments can be disastrous for the parts of the body supported by these structures. Muscles may not work properly, and severe pain can cause immobility. This is just one of the major perils for those who have sustained injuries in a car accident.
Specific Auto Accident Muscle Injuries: Damage to Facet Joints
One type of muscular injury that is somewhat common in car accident victims remains unfamiliar to most people who haven’t studied the central nervous system in detail. Simply speaking, whiplash can cause pain in what are called “facet nerves.” These nerves connect parts of the spine. In some cases, damage to the facet joints can cause spinal support muscles to weaken. While it’s now common for gym-goers to think about “core muscles” in the torso, many people still don’t think about their spinal muscles as a major component of their ability to walk around and accomplish tasks: that is, until one of these injuries affects their ability to accomplish everyday tasks. However, this kind of damage can be extremely painful and, again, can lead to immobility.
Other kinds of muscle and tissue damage can be more like what people experience when they “pull” a major muscle in a limb, or in other areas of the body like the shoulders. It’s important to recognize, though, that the kinds of more subtle muscle damage mentioned above can also result from a car accident, and that they can be difficult to diagnose and treat. It’s important to consult a qualified, credentialed chiropractor who can set you on a path toward recovery.