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Motor Vehicle Accident


A motor vehicle accident (MVA) can cause injury from the impact or from being thrown around inside the car. You may have a bruise on your abdomen, chest, or neck from the seatbelt. You may also have pain in your face, neck, or back. You may have pain in your knee, hip, or thigh if your body hits the dash or the steering wheel. Muscle pain is commonly worse 1 to 2 days after an MVA.


Call 911 if:

  • You have new or worsening chest pain or shortness of breath.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have new or worsening pain in your abdomen.
  • You have nausea and vomiting that does not get better.
  • You have a severe headache.
  • You have weakness, tingling, or numbness in your arms or legs.
  • You have new or worsening pain that makes it hard for you to move.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have pain that develops 2 to 3 days after the MVA.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Safety tips:

  • Always wear your seatbelt. This will help reduce serious injury from an MVA.
  • Use child safety seats. Your child needs to ride in a child safety seat made for his age, height, and weight. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about child safety seats.
  • Decrease speed. Drive the speed limit to reduce your risk for an MVA.
  • Do not drive if you are tired. You will react more slowly when you are tired. The slowed reaction time will increase your risk for an MVA.
  • Do not talk or text on your cell phone while you drive. You cannot respond fast enough in an emergency if you are distracted by texts or conversations.
  • Do not drink and drive. Use a designated driver. Call a taxi or get a ride home with someone if you have been drinking. Do not let your friends drive if they have been drinking alcohol.
  • Do not use illegal drugs and drive. You may be more tired or take risks that you normally would not take. Do not drive after you take prescription medicines that make you sleepy.


  • Use ice and heat. Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and apply to your injured area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed. After 2 days, use a heating pad on your injured area. Use heat as directed.
  • Gently stretch. Use gentle exercises to stretch your muscles after an MVA. Ask your healthcare provider for exercises you can do.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.