All too often the thing we think about first after an auto accident is our car, but the damage to your body may be far worse.
Many of my patients are surprised to find themselves in pain days, weeks or even months after having had a car accident.. Obviously, if you have been in a major accident, go directly to the E.R. so you can be treated for cuts, organ damage, broken bones or other serious trauma's. After any life-threatening emergencies have been treated, it is a good idea to visit a chiropractor.
As a Chiropractor I am skilled in addressing the dysfunctions in the musculoskeletal system that so often happen after being involved in an car accident, especially any misaligned bones. The injury suffered in the neck following a crash can be quite bad, even resulting in postconcussion syndrome and what we call TBI's, or traumatic brain injury's, that may keep you from fully healing. An auto accident can pinch nerves and cause damage to your bones, tendons and ligaments supporting the spine.
The most common condition that I treat as a chiropractor following a car accident is what is called cervical acceleration/deceleration injury's, more commonly known as whiplash. Whiplash from being rear-ended can cause a great amount of chronic, ongoing pain. Though the introduction of seat belts has helped save lives, it can contribute to these types of whiplash injury's. When hit from behind, the seat belt keeps your body from being hurled forward, though, there is no such restraint on your head. What first happens is that your chest, while being supported by the back of your seat, jolts forward, but your unsupported head and neck snaps back. This can cause the neck to go too far back, well beyond its normal capacity, tearing the muscles and ligaments in the front of your neck. Then when your car stops moving your body is flung forward, restrained by your safety belt, but there is nothing to keep your head and neck from being sent forward, injuring the muscles and ligaments in the back of your neck and head.
You may not feel much immediately after a car accident, but do not let that fool you that you have not been injured. This is most likely because your body's natural pain-killing endorphins, like adrenalin, are released when you are injured, masking any pain. You may later experience neck pain, headaches, dizziness or pain radiating into the shoulder and down into your arms or hands.
Many of my patients have experienced relief and stability after an caraccident from headaches, lower back pain, neck pain and even jaw pain. A study in the Journal of Orthopedic Medicine found that 93% of people suffering from pain and symptoms of chronic whiplash experienced improvement under chiropractic care. Chiropractic has been shown to be extremely effective in helping with pain after a car accident and lowering the likelihood of it becoming a long term problem.
Dr. Michael Weir is the clinic director at Bellevue Whiplash Center at Back in Action Chiropractic. We will also be hosting a variety of relevant guest bloggers to help you understand your injuries better.