It's important to check in with your doctor if you have persistent pain after trauma. However, it is not at all unusual to have pain for weeks or even months after a car accident. The impact of a motor vehicle accident can be very forceful and can affect many parts of your body simultaneously.
The most common musculoskeletal injuries are sprain/strain injuries of the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
After this kind of injury, it's important to recognize that when you have pain and stop moving, your muscles go into even more spasm. It becomes a vicious cycle: more pain leads to less movement, which leads to more pain.
Physical therapy (PT) is very helpful in breaking this cycle. But if a person can't tolerate PT because of the pain, I consider whether more medication or a different medications is needed to control the pain and break the cycle.
Sometimes passive modalities such as acupuncture and massage therapy can help lessen pain, too. I think these are great to try, but it's important to keep in mind that in order to heal well, you need to physically regain strength and flexibility. Neither medications nor passive therapies will improve these. They can just help decrease pain so that a person can begin the physical work of regaining strength and flexibility after an injury.
If someone can't tolerate PT in a gym (what rehab professionals often call "land PT"), then I recommend trying PT in the water ("pool PT"). The buoyancy of the water makes movements much easier.
In summary, I recommend that anyone who has recently sustained trauma and is having persistent pain should:
- Check in with your doctor to make sure that there are no injuries that have not been identified.
- Ask your doctor about medications or other modalities that might help better control your pain.
- Consider switching from land PT to pool PT.
- Be patient -- Traumatic injuries can take weeks to months to heal optimally.