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CAR ACCIDENT INJURIES
First Things First Car accidents never happen at a good time. In the worst cases, They can be tragic or life altering. In the best cases, they are still totally inconvenient. Most are somewhere in between. The car is in the shop and you have to get a rental. You have to deal with insurance claims, deductibles and your rates will probably go up the following year. Your starting to wonder if you should see an attorney plus try to find a good one. Then there are the injuries. Usually right after the accident you are shaken up. You might have pain but often you don’t. By the next day you are pretty sore and worst the day after that. Over the next few weeks or even months, you may notice new symptoms and different pains and you may start wondering if you have a new condition or is it all still related to the accident.
Everyone has heard of whiplash. This refers to the mechanism and subsequent injury of the neck in a motor vehicle accident. If your car is hit in the rear, your head first snaps back, then rebounds and snaps forward. If you are hit in the front of the car, your head will snap forward then it will snap back. This action is like a whip so the injuries are called Whiplash injuries. A mild to moderate whiplash will injure the joints of the neck, also called the Cervical Spine. It will also cause a strain on many of the muscles supporting the neck as well as changing the curve of the spine in the neck area. So there are short term and long term consequences of this injury. In the short term, there is a pain from the muscle injury and swelling. There will be misalignments in the spine causing more pain and may pinch some of the nerves in the neck causing headaches, dizziness, upper back pain or arm pain even down to the hands. The injuries to the joints and the changes in the curve of the neck will set the stage for early arthritis or neck related problems in the years to come. To minimize future problems an ambitious course of treatment needs to be started right away.
B. Low Back, Hips and Legs
Low back injuries are common in vehicle that have a lap belt instead of the usual “3 point restraint” found in most cars. In some cases the single belt may cause a “lap belt fracture”, easily seen on a regular x-ray. In most cases, it will cause injuries to the muscles, joints and nerves, just like we described for neck injuries. As with the neck, a consistent and dedicated course of treatment needs to be started right away. The symptoms you might notice begins with low back pain. It may be on one side or both sides. You may have sciatica. This refers to pain in one or both legs from the sciatica nerve being irritated in your low back. Sciatic pain will usually start in your low back and run though your buttock. It may continue only as far as the back or side of your thigh or it may go all the way to your foot. You should never wait to see if sciatica will go away on its own. A pinched nerve is a good reason to se your chiropractor right away. Hip and knee pain are also common after a car accident, especially if you hit the dashboard. Having these problems evaluated right away might keep them from getting worse and also make sure that all your injuries are documented.
C. Other Injuries
The list of other injuries can be pretty long. Obviously, there might be severe tragic injuries. For the most severe injuries, you would usually have been taken to the hospital right away. Of the more moderate injuries, headaches are quite common. Jaw problems are also very common. Carpal Tunnel syndrome which may give you pain, numbness or tingling in the hand are common as well. These may be caused by injury to the hand from the steering wheel or by the neck injury that is pinching a nerve running to the hand or by a combination of the two, referred to as a double crush. Evaluation and treatment of both the neck and hand are important in these cases. What Doctor to go to? Here is where experience matters. The experts in dealing with the spine and musculoskeletal system are Chiropractors. Primary care Docs are great for hearts and livers and lungs. They are not trained for treating the spine and joint injuries. We have had several MD’s who worked in our office they have always wondered why patient would come to them with there problems. They are not the exports. Your primary care Doc. may refer you to a Orthopedist. They are Surgeons. If you don’t need surgery, they’ll send you somewhere else. Because they don’t treat or manage injuries. The Doctors who are trained to evaluate and treat spine and joint injuries are Chiropractors. And because we treat so many patients after car accidents, we have a good working relationship with any professional you may need after an accident. Whether it is a Radiology Center for X-rays or MRI’s, an Orthopedist, Neurologist or an Attorney.