When you think about car accident injuries, the obvious ones that come to mind are likely whiplash, broken bones, and concussions. You might also know from experience or know other people who have suffered a car accident injury that end up with back pain and neck pain after a wreck. But have you ever heard of someone dealing with bone spurs after a car accident? There are so many different types of broken bones and damage that can impact your bones.
Tiny breaks in your bones, known as microfractures, can occur anywhere and particularly in the spine. Damage to your spine from a car accident can lead to a variety of symptoms, so you want to see a car accident doctor as soon as possible to get an accurate diagnosis and the most effective treatment plan for your specific injuries and symptoms. Here’s what you need to know about bone spurs and how they could possibly be caused by a traumatic event like a car accident.
What Is a Bone Spur?
A bone spur is a small growth of bone that can develop along a bone, especially in areas where bones connect to other bones, ligaments, or muscles. Another name for a bone spur is an osteophyte, and if you develop bone spurs, the condition is known as osteophytosis. Bone spurs can develop for a number of reasons, especially when wear and tear or damage to the joints occurs. These connection points for bones and other soft tissues in the body are common areas where bone spurs can develop, like protrusions that extend out from the existing bone. These bony projections develop along the edges of bones and near joints, which develop due to an underlying condition or issue.
Common Causes of Bone Spurs
Bone spurs are typically a sign of something going on in the body. You can also be at greater risk for developing bone spurs if you have chronic poor posture, which makes the vertebrae in your spine more susceptible to the formation of bone spurs. You may also have hereditary factors that put you at greater risk for developing bone spurs, too. Here are three common causes of bone spurs and how they develop:
The most common cause of bone spurs is osteoarthritis, which is also the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is sometimes referred to as “wear and tear arthritis” and tends to occur in older adults. As you age, the general wear and tear on your joints causes them to break down and lose their optimal functioning. As the cartilage in the joints wears down over time, this can cause the bones to rub against one another or wear out. The body attempts to repair this issue by developing new bone, which can develop in the form of bone spurs.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease refers to wear and tear on the spinal discs that separate vertebrae in your neck and back. Similar to the effects of osteoarthritis, the spinal discs that typically provide separation and shock absorption for bones in the spine wear down over time. As this occurs, the vertebrae may start to rub against one another and cause damage. The body’s natural healing process may respond by developing new bone growth, which can develop into bone spurs.
Sudden damage to a joint can also prompt the body’s natural healing response and a bone spur or osteophyte to develop. Common joint injuries suffered in car accidents include sprains, dislocations, and broken bones. Damage to your neck from a whiplash injury or a spinal injury could also lead to the development of bone spurs after a car accident.
How to Diagnose Car Accident Injuries
The general rule of thumb for car accidents is that if your car sustained any kind of damage from the wreck, your body likely did too. Even if you don’t notice pain or other symptoms right away, you always want to get checked out by a car accident doctor. These doctors are highly trained and knowledgeable in the signs and symptoms of car accident injuries. A car accident can be a traumatic event, and the shock and adrenaline of getting into a wreck can keep you from fully recognizing your pain or injuries. Plus, damage that occurs from the car accident can lead to the development of further complications, like bone spurs.
To get an accurate diagnosis for any car accident injury, your car accident doctor will provide you with a comprehensive examination. They will talk to you about your medical history and about your experience with the car accident. Your car accident doctor will want to know what, if any, symptoms you noticed right after the accident, as well as any symptoms that developed in the hours or days afterward. They will perform a physical examination and may also request diagnostic imaging tests like an X-ray or CT scan to diagnose and rule out possible injuries. These diagnostic imaging tools provide your car accident doctor with highly detailed images of your internal structures so they can check for any internal damage to your bones, joints, and soft tissues. If you suffer damage to bones or joints, your doctor may also request repeat scans during your treatment to check for the development of bone spurs as a response to the trauma.
Treatment for Bone Spurs after an Accident
Sometimes a bone spur may not cause any pain or symptoms, while other times, you might notice pain and discomfort while moving the affected joint a certain way. Bone spurs after a car accident more commonly occur in the spine and in joints like the shoulder or knee. The treatment for bone spurs will also occur along with treating your car accident injuries like a dislocated shoulder or a herniated disc in your spine. Here are a few examples of how your car accident doctor might recommend treating bone spurs after a car accident:
Managing any pain and discomfort is an important part of the treatment and healing process. Talk to your car accident doctor about what pain you experience, where it occurs, and if any movements make the pain worse. Your doctor may recommend pain medications you can get over the counter to help with pain and inflammation. If significant swelling and inflammation occur around the site of the bone spur, your doctor may also recommend a steroid shot to help with these symptoms and also help ease your pain and discomfort. Your doctor may also recommend applying an ice pack or cold compress to the area to soothe minor aches and pains.
A physical therapist can provide you with a hands-on approach to treating your car accident injuries and managing symptoms of a bone spur. If a bone spur impacts your mobility or range of motion, a physical therapist may walk you through stretches and exercises that help strengthen and stabilize the affected joint. Strengthening the muscles and tissues that support your joints can help improve your mobility. Physical therapists also offer treatment techniques like soft tissue mobilization and deep tissue massage to promote better circulation to the joint and relax nearby muscles.
A chiropractor can also provide you with treatment options for a bone spur after a car accident. Chiropractors specialize in treating bones and joints, especially those in the spine. If you suffered a spinal car accident injury, chiropractic care will help you recover with all-natural approaches to treatment and healing. Your car accident chiropractor may recommend chiropractic adjustments to help resolve misalignments in the spine, which can also help ease your symptoms. Chiropractors can also help you maintain proper posture to help promote better strength and support along your spine. The health of your spine impacts your daily life and overall health, so it’s important to get proper treatment and support.
When more conservative approaches to treating bone spurs do not alleviate your pain and discomfort, your doctor may talk to you about surgical options. Arthroscopic surgery for a bone spur is an outpatient procedure where an orthopedic surgeon may remove the bone spur to alleviate your discomfort. This type of surgery is also known as a bone spur repair and typically involves tiny incisions around the joint. The recovery process for surgery will depend on the location of the bone spur and the specific type of surgery necessary.
If you are dealing with bone spurs after a car accident, then talk to our car accident doctors at AICA Orthopedics in Jonesboro today. Our convenient location makes it easy to get the diagnosis and treatment you need to fully recover from a car accident injury. We even offer on-site diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays and CT scans so you can get all your needs met in one spot. Get started with our team of Jonesboro car accident doctors, including orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, and physical therapists. We provide our patients with accurate car accident injury diagnoses and personalized treatment plans, so you get the quality and comprehensive care you deserve after a car accident.