Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident?
Why Chiropractic Care Is Essential
When your body is subjected to the forces involved in a car accident collision, some level of injury in ultimately sustained. The most common injury is called, “whiplash” and is thought to involve the neck and head primarily. However, the entire spine can be injured, and very often is.
What actually occurs is a series of rapid, complex spinal movements in many different directions seemingly all at once. These motions can tear supportive tissues such as muscle, fascia and ligaments, leaving the spine misaligned from its normal position, and quite unstable.
In most instances, people involved in a car accident receive substandard care for their injuries. Often when taken to an emergency room, unless the accident appears to have caused other complications such as internal injuries or head injury, the examination is cursory at best. The patient is provided some over-the-counter or prescription medication and told to rest.
A suggestion is sometimes made that if the soreness goes away in a few days to a few weeks, than all is well. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, when injured as described, many patients have long-standing symptoms. In fact, when interviewed ten years after sustaining injury in a motor vehicle accident, 40% of those patients interviewed stated that they still experienced pain and/or disability related to their original injury.
When the spine is damaged, as is generally the case, and ten left uncorrected, the problems simply worsen over time. The patient is then left with a spine which is weakened, has excessive wear and tear in some areas, and also is often painful to the point of interfering with work, play, home life or ever social interaction.
The Sequence of Injury
The simplest mechanism of injury to explain is the “rear-ender”. At the moment of impact from the rear of your car, the torso is moved rapidly forward with the car seat. The head lags behind the torso, and actually rises in the seat in many cases. The muscles of the neck build tension (they are elastic…). The vehicle and the victim’s torso stop their forward motion. The head then catches up with the rest of the body. The head moves rapidly forward with both the momentum of the impact from the rear, and the added tension of the neck muscles propelling the head forward. As the head reaches the end of its norm range of motion and then surpasses it, muscles, ligaments, joint capsules and even nerves are stretched or torn at the back of the neck and upper back. At rest, the head is now displaced from its normal resting place on the neck and relative to the torso.
Now the Symptoms Begin
Often patients are numb immediately after the impact. They may feel a tingling in the muscles of their neck and/or upper back. Some feel pain right away. Others feel headaches, nausea, ringing in the ears, disorientation, and pain in the arms, shoulders, hands or wrists. Many people injure their lower backs, as well. The ultimate irony is that patients who do not experience immediate symptoms, and develop pain and/or loss of range of motion even days following the crash, develop serious long term problems in their spines and muscles from the injury.
It is NOT unusual to feel “out of sorts” or depressed following a car crash. Many people experience pain in the neck, upper back, lower back or arms and legs. Some unfortunate people feel pain in ALL of these areas!
In about half of the cases of whiplash, patients report feeling sore for a few days and then feeling “normal” again some days later. However, these people should still be examined for the effects of the accident upon their spine to prevent the long-term effects of the injury from negatively impacting their lives.
Dr. Hammett's Chiropractic Approach
We start with a comprehensive health history and a specific series of questions regarding the accident. This is followed by an examination of the patient’s posture, standard orthopedic and neurological tests, and a comprehensive X-ray evaluation to compare the patient’s spine to what is known to be normal spinal structure.
After gathering all of the necessary information, the patient and I sit down together so I may explain the patient’s condition and the options for care of the injuries or, if the accident occurred in the past, the current spinal condition. The patient decides on what direction they desire for themselves. I cannot stress enough the importance of early evaluation and treatment in maximum resolution of symptoms, and minimization of the long-term consequences of injury in motor vehicle accidents.
If you or someone your care about has been involved in a car accident, motorcycle or boating incident, you should be evaluated right away to resolve current complaints, and most importantly, future complications.
The Long Term Prognosis
The current research on the spine is clear. If your structure is deviated from normal, you spine will degenerate over time. This will eventually lead to loss of function, and impact your ability to do those things you must do, as well as those things you are passionate about doing.
If you have been involved in a car accident, you should have a comprehensive evaluation as I described above, as soon as possible. Waiting for the long-term damage to set in is not a reasonable option.
*To Get You Complete Whiplash Exam, Schedule an Appointment TODAY! Do not delay! Time is critical for soft tissue auto injuries and in determining your settlement.
Dr. Jennifer Hammett, B.S., D.C.
Call and schedule with me TODAY. 510-779-2772
Dr. Jennifer Hammett provides quality chiropractic care to patients in Pinole, CA. If you suffer from back pain, neck pain, headache, sciatica or have been in an auto collision, Pinole Chiropractic can get you back on the road to health.