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.
I hear the following statement, or some semblance of it almost on a daily basis, "I was so afraid to come in and see you because I was afraid you would 'pop' me, and it would hurt, but I was so amazed that not only did you not pop me, it did not hurt!" So what makes us different here at Bellevue Whiplash Center, at Back in Action Chiropractic? We use technology to help us fix your neck and back which allows use to be very gentle with our adjustments.
Our chiropractic adjustments are to help the joints and ligaments of your spine heal following a motor vehicle accident. The purpose is to improve your body’s functioning and alleviate pain.
Adjustments, especially for car accidents, are most commonly made to joints in your back, and neck, but also if you have injury's to other parts of your body we may treat other parts of the body, such as the shoulders, knees, wrists, or ankles.
Chiropractic has been shown to help with not only whiplash injury's and back pain, but conditions such as:
• Neck, back, shoulder, arm, hand, chest, leg, or foot pain and stiffness
• Sports injuries
• Repetitive strain disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome
If chiropractic is new to you, you may have a bit of a hard time relaxing on your first visit, and this is nothing to worry about, as we will slowly explain everything we are doing and work with you. As you get used to the procedures you should find that it is relaxing, and you may feel relief and a sense of well-being after the adjustment.
After your first treatment, you may feel some soreness or aching in the muscles or joints. If it occurs, this kind of discomfort usually mimics the soreness that you may feel after a vigorous exercise routine. It should not last longer than 24 hours. Typically an ice pack on the affected area of soreness in this case should help reduce the soreness and help you recover quickly.
If you have been involved in a Bellevue auto accident, be sure you choose a board-certified chiropractor with good patient references. An experienced, competent practitioner will be able to give you the most effective treatment possible with the least amount of discomfort.
Chiropractic Adjustment: What you can Expect. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chiropractic-adjustment/MY01107
Reactions Following a Chiropractic Adjustment. http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/chiropractic/reactions-following-a-chiropractic-adjustment
Every Chiropractor is very different in their approach to treating car accident injuries. This is a good thing because not every injury is exactly same and every ones body differs in how they respond to care. The following are things that I tell my friends, family, and out of state patients to look for when looking for a chiropractor out of state and what you should be looking for following a car accident.
1. Do they have a technique (how they treat you) that is best for your body and your specific injuries? Again, remember what I stated above. Not all chiropractors do things the same way and not all ways will work for your individual body or your individual injuries. So how do you know? First off if you are queasy AT ALL about the "snap, crackle, pop" that comes from a hands on treatment, then that is not right for you, and you need a more gentle treatment like the Proadjuster or the activator. Next, if you have ever received a "deep tissue" massage and been worse afterwards then a heavier chiropractic treatment is not for you.
2. Do they have a way of analyzing your ENTIRE body and all of the injuries that you had while in your car accident? Yes, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. It is important to assess you as a whole, because we are one big connected chain. Something that I see quite often when I am examining a patient who has been in a car accident is that the foot that they had on the brake pedal was affected. Its important that this is found and addressed. Something in your shoulders because of the seat belt could give you head aches. So, ask if they have a way to assess your feet such as digital scans of the foot, do they have ways to look at your arms and shoulders? Now it may not be necessary to do all of these tests on every person, but it is important that they have the ability to.
3. Does the chiropractor continue his education above and beyond the "required" hours to renew their license? The health care field is changing on a daily basis. New research is coming out all the time, and if every chiropractor does not stay up to date on what is new in the field of automobile injuries then they are not giving their patients the best care available. Every chiropractor in the United States has to have a certain number of continuing education each year. What I have found is that this amount is far less than what is necessary to keep up to date.
4. Do they do rehabilitation or prescribe exercises? This is a vital component to getting better following a car accident. I tell my patients all the time "I can put you back together all day long, but until your muscles can hold you there you are going to have ongoing problems". This does not have to be complex, but it does have to be a part of getting you better.
Make sure that when you are searching for a physician following your car accident that you ask these questions.
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I recently had a patient come to see me after an auto accident they were involved in who was in quite a bit of pain. As we got to talking though, it became obvious that it was not the pain that they were currently in that concerned them the most, it was if they would be able to run in marathons again following this significant injury. "Will my injuries heal to 100% and allow me to partake in running again like I was able to do before?" The good news is that with appropriate treatment, motor vehicle injuries can heal without leaving you with residual problems. The bad news is that a large percentage of traumatic injuries will have residual problems.
In one study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, the authors
followed up on patients involved in motor vehicle collisions approximately fi-
fteen years earlier. The authors wanted to know whether patients, fifteen ye-
ars after cervical injury, had improved or worsened symptoms, and whether
psychological variables played a role in the patient's condition. A group of six-
ty one patients was studied. All had presented to the same emergency depar-
tment in England after car collision-related soft tissue injury to the neck. Forty
were available for the follow-up. Ninety percent of this group had been involv-
ed in rear-end motor vehicle collisions. (From Injury to Action: Navigating Your
Personal Injury Claim, Richard H. Adler, Chapter 31, Page 130)
What the study found was quite surprising. They found that 70% of the patients were still experiencing some sort of symptoms. Of that 70%, 42% of the injured had moderate to severe symptoms. Of the 61 patients 28% of them had actually gotten worse over the years. It was found that the patients who had radiating pain at the time of the injury typically had the worst outcomes. The researchers also found that there was definitely a correlation between the patients pain and depression symptoms.
In my opinion the thing that gives an injured person the best chance for a positive outcome to their injuries is two fold: 1. Know the extent of your injuries via in-depth and thorough diagnostics, including video flouroscopy if involved in a whiplash type injury. 2. Receive the appropriate treatment for your injuries to its completion.
Seeing a chiropractor following a motor vehicle collision can be a very good idea for quite a few reasons. One is that we see a lot of accident victims and are experts at diagnosing and finding the root cause of your pain and discomfort. We are well trained at treating a variety of accident injuries. We are also one of the only physicians and providers that take a car accident case on a lien. One of my fellow chiropractors Troy Davis wrote a fantastic article detailing why seeing a chiropractor following a car accident is a great idea. Check it out here http://accidentdoctor.org/accident-chiropractor/
Recently I had a patient come in for their treatment who had recently been in a car accident. We checked their pulse oxygenation levels, which simply put is the percentage of oxygenation found in the blood, and found that their levels were 83%. Now normally I want to see those levels closer to 97-98% so this was extremely low. Low oxygen levels can be extremely common following a car accident as the seat belt typically creates an injury pattern across the ribs, thus decreasing the bodies ability to breathe deeply. Low oxygen levels can slow healing time, increase pain, and decrease your brains ability to adapt to the healing process.
Check out this quick video that describes the importance of oxygen and how you can fix this issue.
This is a question that a hear often, so here is a quick video answering that question...
More than anything, make sure you do SOMETHING following a car accident, and a whiplash injury. After you get that ice on your neck and back, make sure you give us a call at Bellevue Whiplash Center at Back in Action Chiropractic at 425-635-0495 to schedule your car accident evaluation.
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.