hit by a car
September 29, 2016 8:44 PM   Subscribe

I got hit by a car while biking. How do I make my body get better?

A taxi was going straight and abruptly swerved right to drop someone off, directly into my path. I braked as hard as I could, but ended up partially on his hood on my left side. This was on Tuesday!

I've been to my doctor twice, and she says that aside from bruising, muscle soreness, and likely bruised ribs (I received an x-ray to see if there are any fractures, results are pending), I am probably fine (but that I should go to ER if I feel any new sharp pains). She told me to take Tylenol but that was it.

My question is: how long will it be before body things get back to normal? And can I do anything to speed this healing up? Yesterday just my left ribs and bruised leg hurt. Today my arms started aching from elbow to fingertip (I assume from the braking), and my back got sore after I stood for two hours (but the ribs feel better today). Sometimes when I stretch, I hear weird (but not necessarily painful) snaps/crackles/pops. What comes next? Is this going to get worse before it gets better?

I know this is metafilter, so I will say: I didn't get any the driver's information because I was in shock, I did file a police report, I did go around to businesses in the area to see if they have video footage, and I did talk to a lawyer who said that even if I found video footage that I likely couldn't do anything legal because my medical issues are not that bad. I haven't had the mental energy to fix my bike, but it looks like I just need to adjust the handlebars and the brakes.
posted by aaanastasia to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
1. Call your doctor and ask for Tylenol with codeine. Tell her the pain is interfering with your sleep, that the soreness is making it difficult for you to do basic tasks, and that you are hearing strange popping sounds when you try to stretch, but you are not getting any relief from OTC Tylenol.

2. Get a second opinion from a different doctor in case that enables you to get a second opinion from a different lawyer who'd be willing to pursue legal action given that you were just, you know, hit by a car.

3. IANAD, IANYD, IANAL, IANYL. I am, however, very sorry this happened to you. :(
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:06 PM on September 29, 2016

Yeah, go back to the doctor (this one or, preferably, one who isn't an asshole) and report the new symptoms. The back issues in particular need to be documented and treated (possibly by muscle relaxants and painkillers, possibly by PT.) Back issues from car accidents routinely don't show up for a day or two, and can take a depressingly long time to resolve.

(My wife and I got rear-ended this January - a much less dynamic accident than yours) and it took me two months of PT to stop having pain, and she's still getting treatment for hers.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:19 PM on September 29, 2016

Worst of the soreness should be gone in 4 days. Stiffness in a week. Pulled muscles 3 weeks, torn muscles are forever roughly. Any cracked ribs are six weeks. If you damaged tendons in your arms that's 6-12 weeks if you rest them properly and rehab it correctly. I'd avoid NSAIDs if you can the benefits of anti -inflammatories for acute injuries are questionable and it sounds like you're not in awful pain, sleep a lot and walk around gently many times per day. Odds are, you'll be fine in a couple weeks. If anything still hurts go to a PT and have it checked out. That sounds like a routine tumble though.
posted by fshgrl at 9:28 PM on September 29, 2016 [10 favorites]

No, it's probably not going to get worse than it is now. Injuries like what you describe typically get better in a few weeks, although sometimes it can take longer. fshgrl's timeline is a good one.

I'm a doctor and I think your doctor is right, by the way. Muscle strains and sprains generally should not be treated with narcotics.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:37 PM on September 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

This is completely patient-type, personal experience commentary, but are you being gentle and kind and comforting to your body? Extra rest, extra sleep, nourishing food, and no "pushing through it". Between the physical and psychological shocks, don't do anything that causes extra pain (exercise, stretches) for at least a week from the accident. If something longer-term did happen, you don't want to exacerbate it while trying to decide if it exists.
posted by clew at 9:51 PM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

where do you live? if you're still in europe, look for an osteopath. they will realign not only your bones but also work on muscles, fascia and your organs that could have gotten bumped out of place during the fall. (american osteopaths are different, that's why location matters.)
posted by andreapandrea at 10:03 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had a fairly serious head-on collision on my bike with a car in which I hit the windshield near the top left side with my left shoulder the way you'd hit a door you were trying to break down, shattered the windshield and was thrown through the air and landed about twenty feet from the point of impact back along the way I'd come, fortunately on a grass parking strip.

I refused to go to the hospital, so I don't know if anything was broken, though the socket of my left shoulder was looser for a long time and tended to pop and crack quite a bit. But almost four years later, I was wrestling with my partner and she was pulling hard on my left arm straight out from my side with both hands, when suddenly there was a loud thud that startled both of us, and the whole upper left quadrant of my body shifted. I felt it mainly at the top of my sternum at the collarbone, and at the top and bottom of my spine, and it brought with it a sensation of great relief of a discomfort I didn't know I had been feeling.

So I second andreapandrea's advice to seek out an osteopath to make sure things are properly aligned.
posted by jamjam at 10:43 PM on September 29, 2016

Jeez. I am a massage therapist, and I used to treat a lot of car accident victims, and you absolutely cannot tell right away exactly how long-lasting the damage will be. This is a huge issue. But usually it's people not *seeking* medical care right away because they think they're fine. When they wait until later, it becomes harder to establish that the accident was the cause.

But you sought medical treatment, and seem to have run into some incompetents. I would not trust someone who so easily sweeps your concerns aside. They are obviously not familiar with or not good at treating accident victims, because it is *the norm* for things to get worse and sometimes for chronic issues to set in days and weeks after the accident.

I'm also horrified that your *lawyer* would presume to act as though they are a medical professional and pass judgement on exactly how bad your injuries were (before you've even received results from xrays? WTF?)

Get a new lawyer, someone who is versed in auto injuries. I guarantee you this is not the way to handle it.

If you had been in a car, you could use your Personal Injury Protection to pay for medical bills, regardless of fault. I don't know about bike riders, though--do you have insurance?
posted by mysterious_stranger at 10:58 PM on September 29, 2016

My mother had a fall, was OK two days later but in back pain by day four. We got her checked from a compression fracture (she has osteoporosis so this was likely) and the didn't find anything on the scans. Another two days after that, her ribs were really hurting and now they show up as fractured. It was a month later when a CT scan of her abdomen showed that she really did have a new compression fracture in her back. Apparently some fractures don't really show up the scans until they start to heal and then the thickening of the new growth becomes visible.

IANAD but before this I had no idea these problems could takes before the pain was noticeable and that they don't always show up on scans when they are new.
posted by metahawk at 12:23 AM on September 30, 2016

Hi all — thanks for the answers so far! I just want to clarify a few points — I like my doctor and she seems generally very competent, and has done very well as not only identifying pain but managing my anxiety about this process. I am going to see her again next week. The lawyer I know less about, but he has dealt extensively with bike-taxi collisions and is recommended by the bike advocacy group in DC.

andreapandrea — I am in the US, but I am actually going back to Europe a bit for work in about 2.5 weeks. Is that too late for that course of action, and are there any specific things to look for in an osteopath (certifications, etc) while there?
posted by aaanastasia at 4:45 AM on September 30, 2016

I'm with your lawyer on this one too, sadly. Do not underestimate the time and stress of legal proceedings. Where I live, these proceedings can drag on for years. If your actual damages (lost wages, medical treatment, etc) are under $5k, it's probably not worth the stress and hassle. Best case, you'll feel better in a couple of weeks and you'll move on with your life. I hope it works out for you.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:42 AM on September 30, 2016

As above, rest in the short term, and the majority of issues will self-heal. Back and joint issues though should be paid attention to if they last more than a few days.

If long-term mobility or joint issues persist, ask your doctor for a referral to a sports medicine or an occupational/physical therapy specialist. GPs, in my experience, are terrible with muscle and joint injuries, even getting a diagnosis can be a problem. They're far too happy to hand out pain killers and tell you to wait it out.

At a certain point, you need to start working the recovered muscles and joints to continue healing and rebuilding strength and mobility. That usually isn't pleasant, but is necessary. You can do this yourself successfully, self-monitoring for use pain vs overwork pain. You will need to push a little. A gym trainer can help. PT can be fantastic for this.
posted by bonehead at 9:49 AM on September 30, 2016

If the x-rays bear out that nothing is broken, then I would also recommend taking a hot bath with Epsom salts. Perhaps rubbing some Arnica cream into the spots that are really sore (I never am sure if it is the gentle massage or the Arnica that makes it feel better). And what everyone says above, you've had a trauma, be really kind and gentle with yourself for a bit. Gentle movement, light massage, etc. If the x-rays show anything more serious than bruises, etc., then do whatever the doctor recommends.
posted by agatha_magatha at 1:16 PM on September 30, 2016

I was hit by a car as a pedestrian in June (dumb jerk ran a red light and hit me on the crosswalk). I "only" had bruised ribs and some scrapes and bruises on my elbow and leg, but the ribs hurt horribly for a couple of weeks (I was using ice on them regularly and stopped riding my bike to work) and I felt pain on laughter/coughing/lying on my side for over a month. The day of the accident I felt completely fine, the next day still fine, the third day suddenly sore and exhausted. I'd say it took three-four days before it felt like I stopped getting more sore. Bruised ribs means the bones are swollen and damaged, but haven't cracked. It's not like a soft tissue bruise.

Legally, if you can find the driver then in WA you would likely be able to get his insurance to pay any costs you incurred - it might be worth clarifying with the lawyer, it's possible he was telling you that it wasn't worth pursuing charges or similar.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:02 PM on October 1, 2016

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