Auto Accident Injury
Uh oh! “Bam” “Crash” “Ouch” Auto accidents are very frustrating because they leave your car and your health banged up.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are over 6 million motor vehicle accidents each year, or about 16,000 per day.
There are big accidents and minor accidents. There are “lucky to be alive” stories and “just a little sore” stories. But it’s very important to understand the health implications of auto accidents big or small. First, there is never an incidence of NOT being injured in accident. The reason being; you are strapped into a vehicle when there is an impact that moves the car and your body reacts to those forces. Even if you are aware and buckled in, your body’s reflexes are not fast enough to truly brace yourself and deflect injury. Please, don’t misunderstand me, you still need to wear your seat belt, have a properly functioning airbag and have your head rest in the proper position to limit injury.
“I went to Inner Vitality Chiropractic after a rear-end incident that left me with whiplash and substantial neck pain. Dr. Jeremy Overholt has helped tremendously and I couldn’t be more grateful. He has taken the time to explain every treatment and my healing process, working diligently to get me back to full use of my neck and out of pain. I highly recommend Inner Vitality Chiropractic and Dr. Jeremy Overholt. I don’t think my healing process would have gone so smoothly if i hadn’t started treatments with him!” – Deanna (see her review HERE)
Types of Injuries
There are many potential types of injuries from auto accidents. Being a chiropractic clinic that specializes in auto accidents we see our fair share of injuries: broken bones from the most minor of accidents, foot injuries, hand injuries and jaw displacement injuries. Some injuries require referring out, but the following are the most common injuries and ones that we are experts at helping with.
If you are in an accident, 100% of the time your neck is injured. There is no way around it regardless if the impact was at 80 mph or 5. The reason is because you have a 10-12 lbs. head on top of your neck and neither are strapped in. So your head moves like a weighted pendulum. When there is an impact your head, according to Newton’s laws of motion, will try to stay in place as your body moves with the car and then it will recoil a couple of times. This is what causes a whiplash injury. Most often this is what happens when you are rear ended or run into another car. In this type of injury your neck (cervical spine) suffers from sprained ligaments and strained muscles. This will result in misalignments of the neck vertebrae, pain in the front or back of neck, decreased motion, headaches, inability to get comfortable, migraines and sometime insomnia.
The ligaments are there to hold the bones in place. When they are injured the muscles respond by becoming very tight in effort to hold things together. This is incredibly important because those bones are protecting your spinal cord and nerves. If they move out of their proper alignment and stay there you could cause problems like more pain, further arthritis, shooting pain in your extremities. If you have an exam after an accident your neck should have a convex forward curve of about 40 degrees. Usually what we see in an accident is that the neck becomes almost instantly straight because of the injury and splinting muscles.
Additionally, the muscle of the neck become strained. This is just like an athlete pulling a muscle from over exertion. You might feel very sore muscles and even have very sensitive spots when you touch them. With these injured muscles you might get tired easier, easily agitated and not have the same range of motion as you normally do.
Commonly many will complain about shoulder pain after an accident. Shoulder pain means different things to different people. Many will complain about the portion of the shoulder where the arm meets the torso. If you are the driver, you most likely will complain about your right shoulder because of its greater potential for injury as it is not strapped in. If you are a passenger, it’s the opposite shoulder. Chiropractors are very skilled at evaluating and adjusting shoulders.
Also, many will indicate that they are having pain between their shoulder blades. This common because this area is connected to the neck and shares common motion and muscles. Misalignments in the vertebra here can cause considerable discomfort with daily tasks like computer work, driving, or just sitting.
Your lower spine is made up of 5 vertebra. The spine works together as a whole and even if you are buckled in the lower spine can become injured. Because of the force of impact your lower spine can be pushed into extension as the motion of the seat pushes your middle back against the seat belt. Just like in the neck this region can have pain, sprained ligaments, misalignments of the vertebrae and muscular strains. This can present as pain across your belt line or even higher. A qualified chiropractor will evaluate your entire spine to ensure that you are getting the best care.
Unfortunately most people do nothing after an auto accident. Maybe they just don’t know what they should do or they feel like they are okay. Be not getting evaluated by a skilled chiropractor you are opening up yourself to a multitude of potential side effects down the road. It is better to ask questions and get informed so you can make the best decision for your health.
I feel okay afterwards
This is a very common and dangerous pitfall. Many people will feel perfectly fine after an auto accident. The challenge is that you are most likely injured but your body and all the adrenaline from the accident are covering the injury. Many times you have to have 60% tissue damage before you are consciously feeling pain.
The risk in doing nothing when you feel fine is that you will have problems stemming from the accident in the future. It might be six days, six months or six years down the road. It always makes sense to be evaluated by a chiropractor who specializes in auto accidents.
I just need rest
This is so true, you absolutely need more rest. When you rest, your body heals. However, you also need to be evaluated to address any whiplash injury before it becomes a long term problem
Urgent Care or the ER said I was okay
That is a great first step. They are the absolute best when it comes to finding the big life and limb threatening injuries like fractures, dislocations or internal issues. However, it is not their job to address your long term stability and health. They may not find a fracture or dislocation in your neck, but if there is ligamentous injury from the accident that allowed for altered alignment, you can be setting yourself up for bigger injuries down the road such as arthritis. You will also need to consult with a specialized chiropractor.
It’s six months later and I hurt
Unfortunately this is common when there isn’t proper care at the time of the accident that left the damaged tissues and spine unchecked. The injury got worse with your daily activities as the tissues broke down further from overuse and misuse. Still, the body is marvelous at recovering when the correct care is administered. Even though time has passed your body can still recover to some extent with the right chiropractic care.
I probably just need a massage
Yes, you probably need a massage or several. A skilled massage therapist will be great at working out the trigger points and addressing the function of your suffering muscles. That is only one part of the equation as you will also have to address the alignment of your spine through chiropractic care. It is not the muscles that hold things in place. It is your ligaments and input from your nerves.
My doctor recommended physical therapy
That is great, you should go. Physical therapists are great at addressing the soft tissue injuries of auto accidents. You will still need to be evaluated by a chiropractor who can address the alignment of the spine through specialized care. These are best done together to address the body as a whole
Inner Vitality Chiropractic and Superior Auto Accident Care
There are many chiropractors to choose from. But when it comes to auto accidents and the unique injuries attributed to them, you deserve to work with a seasoned chiropractor known for getting results through a specific course of care designed to return you to pre-injury status. Dr. Jeremy Overholt specializes in helping those who suffer from auto accident related injuries recover. He became a chiropractor after a significant auto accident and his chiropractor helped him reclaim his health and understand the healing potential of the human body.