“I was in a small car accident last month. It was really no big deal, I was stopped in traffic and the guy behind me was not paying attention and rear ended me going 30 miles an hour. Since then, I can’t turn my head to the right, my right arm is numb, and I can’t sleep through the night. I went to my family doctor and he eventually gave me a muscle relaxer, an anti-inflammatory and a pain pill. I can sleep better but I hate that groggy feeling I get in the morning and to be honest, the pain is about the same. Is there anything chiropractic can do for me?”
This type of case presentation is something we see at Bellevue Whiplash Center at Back in Action Chiropractic all the time. Often, the treatment options offered by family doctors have side effects that can sometimes be more annoying than the condition being treated. Not only that but there may be underlying injurys as a result of the whiplash that may be creating your pain and leave you with life long disability. So the question is, “what can a chiropractor do for neck pain following a car accident?”
Neck pain following a whiplash injury is frequently caused by one or more of the 7 vertebra in the neck shifting out of alignment and literally, getting stuck – losing its ability to bend and rotate when we move our head and neck. It’s like taking one worker away from a group of 7 and asking the remaining 6 workers to do the same amount of work. This leads to all kinds of over-compensation in the other 6 vertebrae and can even alter function in the mid-back, as well. Depending on which nerve(s) get irritated, problems can include headaches, shoulder blade pain, arm pain, numbness and/or weakness. Another common problem that occurs when neck pain is present are muscle spasms in the neck area. This is due to a reflex reaction where the brain receives the pain signals from the neck and in response, sends signals back to the muscles to tighten in attempt to protect the problem. This becomes a “vicious cycle” and may continue until the joint is unlocked or released, which is the purpose of the chiropractic adjustment.
Chiropractic treatment for whiplash injuries works great because we are using a physical (not a chemical) form of treatment to unlock the joint, which in turns shuts off the signals from the joint to the brain and in turn, the protective muscle spasm discontinues. Sometimes, the improvement is immediate but more often, several treatments may be required to move the body towards healing. In general, the recovery time is shorter the closer to the time of the car accident you are treated, so obtaining an appointment immediately is wise. We can also show you methods of exercising the neck at home between treatments, which also speeds up the recovery time.
If you, a family member or a friend require care, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our service. Being involved in a car accident can be a scary thing, and we appreciate everything that you are going through. We are proud that chiropractic care has consistently scored the highest level of satisfaction when compared to other forms of health care provision and we look forward in serving you and your family presently and in the future.
Almost on a weekly basis, we have come in to see us following a car accident and tell us that they have full medical coverage through their motor vehicle insurance that will pay for all of their care. When we call their insurance, as we do with all car accident patients to find out the details of their claim, it turns out they have no personal injury protection also known as PIP. All to often when we are shopping for car insurance we are looking for the best rate, and in doing so we may be signing up for inadequate coverage. My patients thought they were signing up for full coverage, but in reality were only signing up for liability insurance. This all to often leaves these people between a rock and a hard place, and I have found it is such an easy preventative fix.
Whats the answer? Call up your insurance broker or log on to your online account and make sure you have the full amount of PIP coverage. Washington requires all drivers to have what is called liability insurance at a minimum of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident, which means that if in an accident they will cover any damages that you created. Washington law requires that the insurance company offer PIP, but it is not mandatory that everyone have it. If you decline signing up for PIP you must either put it in writing, or sign electronically. The majority of the time this is where most get into trouble, in that they are purchasing insurance online, and the box that you must check to decline PIP blends in with all of the other box's that you are checking.
Personal injury protection pays for any and all medical expense, in some cases even pays for wage loss, loss of essential services like house cleaning, and even funeral benefits. In Washington the minimum amount that you can have is $10,000 and you can buy up to $35,000 worth of coverage. You can see that the difference between having $10,000 worth of essential medical care and potential not having anything can be devastating.
Another reason that some decline getting PIP coverage is that someone told them that their health insurance covers all medical treatment if one is injured in a car accident. While this may be true, it is not the best advise. General insurance typically is bound by deductables that you will have to meet before they will start to pay, capped visit amounts and restrictions on what they may and may not cover, where PIP does not typically have these same restrictions.
I have seen far too much heart ache come from inadequate or no insurance and I would hate for you to be stuck in this same predicament. A great place to go to get a better understanding of what your insurance coverage is, is the Washington State Insurance Commissioner. You can find their common sense, easy to understand website at www.insurance.wa.gov. If you have any other questions we would be thrilled to be able to help in any way that we can. Please call Bellevue Whiplash Center at Back in Action Chiropractic at 425-635-0495 today.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/34236324@N05/6553972931">HB 203 & 204 Commodore SS</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>
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.