You’ve just been rear-ended. Your heart is pounding, your hands are shaking, and you’re not sure what just happened. What do you do next? Should you call the police? Get your insurance company on the phone? Call the hotline that you’ve seen advertised on billboards and television?
Your first call should be to the police to report the accident . An officer will arrive at the scene to take statements, assess the damage, and determine who was at fault and write any necessary citations. If you are having difficulty breathing, experiencing blurred vision, double vision, nausea, difficulty moving your arms and legs or suspect you may have any broken bones, request to be taken the the emergency room. Otherwise, your first call needs to be to a qualified chiropractic physician.
Why should you trust a chiropractor to diagnose and treat injuries from an auto accident? Most chiropractors focus on musculoskeletal injuries like neck pain, back pain, headaches, sciatica, disc herniations, and whiplash. As a result they are extensively trained in determining what diagnostic testing is necessary, and if your pain requires a consultation from a specialist such as an orthopedist or neurologist. A chiropractor determine the type and severity of your injuries, and how they can be best treated.
It is common for chiropractors to use a combination of therapies to help heal the injuries from your car accident. In addition to gentle chiropractic adjustments, therapies such as acupuncture, massage, electric muscle stimulation, rehab exercises, and spinal decompression are also very common modalities used.
You will also want to make sure that your chiropractor is comfortable working with personal injury attorneys. Not every auto accident case requires the guidance of an attorney, but if yours does it is critical that your doctors and lawyer are on the same page. Ask your chiropractor if they have experience working with attorneys, writing narrative reports, or performing impairment ratings. This is where your doctor can make or break your personal injury case. For this reason, many family doctors won’t even see patients who have been in a car accident- they don’t want the hassle of dealing with auto insurance companies and personal injury attorneys.
So if you’ve recently been in an auto accident and are experiencing common symptoms such as neck pain, whiplash, numbness in the arms or legs, back pain, headaches, or difficulty concentrating, immediately consult with a qualified chiropractor who can help your recovery.
Automobile accidents are a significant cause of neck pain, disc injuries, back pain, migraines, and many other conditions. When an car accident happens, most of us don’t have a clear picture of what we should do next. First, make sure all of the occupants of your vehicle are safe and secure. You might need to move the car off the road to a safer location.
Once you are safe, call the police immediately. It is critical that a police report it filed to document the damage to your vehicle and who was at fault in the collision. These facts may become critical down the line if there is any litigation related to the accident.
If you have sustained serious injuries, it may be necessary for you to be taken to the emergency room. They will perform any necessary x rays or CT scans to make sure you don’t have any broken bones or internal injuries. At this point you will most likely be discharged with some pain pills, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflammatories, and told to follow up with your family doctor.
This is where things can become complicated. Many family doctors simply will not see a patient who has been in an accident, even if you have been established at their office for years. This is not because they are rude, incompetent, or lazy, it is because they typically are not comfortable dealing with the legal complications, billing hassles, and other issues related to treating personal injury cases.
For this reason, it is critical that you seek the care of a chiropractor who is skilled in treating automobile accident victims. Chiropractors are experts at treating musculoskeletal injuries such as whiplash, back pain, headaches, and sciatica. A good chiropractor will be able to order any necessary x rays, MRIs, nerve tests, or other procedures. Although it’s rare that car accident victims will require surgery, your chiropractor will be able to determine if your injuries will necessitate you seeing a surgeon for a consultation.
So if you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, now you know exactly what to do. As soon as you can, contact a local chiropractor to help you on the road to recovery!
The syndrome of whiplash was first described in litigation in 1928. Since that time whiplash has had an unsavory reputation. Many researchers and doctors avoided involvement with whiplash injuries and opinions varied.
Over time, it became clear that complaints of patients sustaining this type of injury were, in fact, fairly consistent. The most common complaint, neck pain, could easily be understood, but other symptoms, such as ringing in the ears, dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, numbness, and back pain, were not so easily explained clinically.
According to research statistics, nearly one-third of all motor vehicle accidents are rear-end collisions. Newton’s first law of motion states that “an object continues either at rest or in a state of motion in a straight line, unless it is acted upon by an external force”. When a vehicle stopped at a red light is hit, the car is moved forward by the external force of the impacting vehicle. This force pushes the seat and driver forward. The neck, which is not in contact with the seat, remains stationary, causing hyperextension of the neck. When the front vehicle stops, the driver is thrown forward.
Although the shoulder harness prevents the driver from hitting the steering wheel or windshield, it forces the head to fly forward in a twisting motion, causing hyper flexion of the neck. Most injuries are a result of hyperextension, when the neck can exceed the maximum physiologic extension of 70 degrees by as much as 120 degrees, stretching some muscles as much as 30%.
The forces exerted on the head and neck with rear-end collisions can be quite high. For example, one G is the force exerted by the earth’s gravity which causes an object to fall at 32 feet per second. Pilots begin to pass out at 6 Gs, and at 8 Gs you are pinned to your seat. If a 150-pound person is subjected to 10 Gs, this is a force of 1,500 pounds. In crash testing, with impacts below 10 mph, the head can be subjected to 10 to 15 Gs for 100 milliseconds.
If the average head weighs 12 pounds, then it becomes a weight of 120-180 pounds. Talk about a headache!
Research involved with the actual injuries sustained by victims of whiplash show tearing of muscles, ligaments, vertebral disc derangement, tears in the ligamentous capsules surrounding the joints, damage to the sympathetic nervous system and peripheral nervous system, occult fractures, mild concussions, and micro-hemorrhages of the brain tissue and spinal cord, as well as stress disorders.
Many of these injuries are imperceptible on MRIs, CT scans, and x-rays. The symptoms range from muscle pain, headaches, jaw pain, vertigo, nausea, visual problems, forgetfulness, and unexplained numbness in the arms and legs, etc.
Symptoms may not present themselves for hours, days, months, or even years after the accident. Scientific evidence supports these characteristic of whiplash injuries. Other studies show that neck pain presents in 65% of patients within 6 hours of the accident, 28% within 24 hours, and 7% within 72 hours, though those people suffering symptoms immediately after the accident are more likely to continue to show symptoms more than 2 years following the initial injury.
People who have pre-existing conditions such as arthritis, and women due to their smaller frame and less muscle density than men, are more likely to be injured, though the speed and size of the vehicles involved, as well as the position of the seat and other factors play a significant role in determining the severity of an injury. Government reports revealed over one million injuries from rear-end collisions in 1990, and estimates project that over 25 years the prevalence of chronic pain from whiplash is more than 9% of the total U.S. population.
To lessen your risk of serious injury, wear your seatbelt, sit up in your seat with your seat in the upright position, and stop thinking of your head restraint as a headrest. The majority of people have their head restraint improperly positioned. Correctly adjusted, your restraint should be about even with eye level, and with no more than a two-inch gap between the restraint and your head.
If you are in an accident, even what appears to be a minor one, after life-threatening injuries have been ruled out, follow-up with a physician who specializes in soft-tissue trauma.
Remember, prevention is always best… drive safely, and watch out for the car behind you.