Bicycle Accident Injuries: Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains are common injuries sustained in a bicycle accident. This kind of soft tissue damage typically heals with time, though in some severe cases, surgery may be required to repair the tissue, especially if there are tears.

What types of sprains or strains do bicyclists experience in an accident?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between a sprain and strain. When ligaments (which provide stability and support to joints) are stretched or torn, this is a sprain. When the tendon or muscle is stretched or torn, that is a strain.

These can happen when someone falls off his or her bike in a collision or there is a direct blow to the body, such as from a vehicle. For instance, a bicyclist may sprain his or her wrist when trying to break a fall from the bike.

Some of these types of injuries are more painful than others, such as those that occur to the neck and back. As a result, recovery could take longer and impact one’s ability to work.

What are the signs of a sprain or strain?

The following are some of the signs of a sprain:

  • pain;
  • inflammation;
  • limited mobility; and
  • bruising.

These symptoms can range from mild to severe. At the moment of injury, especially when a ligament tears, there may be a sound or sensation of popping.

Signs of a strain are similar to those in a sprain. However, there could also be muscle weakness and spasms, along with cramping. If the tendon or muscle has severe damage, it could completely incapacitate the person.

With a back sprain or strain, an individual may experience increased pain with certain movements or a decreased range of motion when bending, walking or even standing straight.

A neck sprain or strain can cause:

  • headache;
  • pain to spread to the shoulders;
  • stiffness; and
  • difficulty moving the head up and down, side to side or in a circular motion.

How are sprains or strains treated?

The goal is typically to prevent any further damage to the area. The doctor may advise the patient to rest and apply ice to the affected area. The patient may also be told to elevate an affected limb. Over-the-counter or prescription medication can treat inflammation and pain.

Depending on the severity of the injury, rehabilitation could become necessary. Special exercises that focus on improving range of motion may help. Sometimes the injured area is immobilized, such as with a soft collar around the neck.

If the sprain or strain is significant or other treatment methods haven’t worked, it could lead to surgery, especially if there is a tear in a ligament or muscle. Generally, this is followed by physical therapy. Even when a surgical procedure isn’t necessary, a more serious injury can take weeks or even months to completely heal.

An avid bicyclist himself, attorney D.J. Banovitz helps victims of bicycle accidents in the Arvada area pursue compensation to cover their medical bills, as well as other damages like lost wages because of missed time from work.