What Should I Do If I Get Into An Auto Accident
1. Stop - do not obstruct traffic
2. Assist the injured
3. Protect the scene - to prevent further injury
4. Call an officer - local Police Department
5. Keep notes - strictly to yourself
6. Assist the officer - give basic facts
7. Identify the other driver
8. Obtain witnesses information
9. Arrest does not indicate liability
10. Call our office at 916-979-0716
11. Inform your insurance company
12. Obtain professional counsel (get an Attorney)
Two Types of Injuries
There are two types of injuries that happened to accident victims: These include Hard Tissue and Soft Tissue Injuries. Hard tissue injuries usually require emergency medical treatment. Most soft tissue injuries respond best to chiropractic care.
Hard Tissue Injuries
Hard tissue injuries are those injuries which happen to the bones. They include fractures, broken bones and dental problems. These along with cuts, bruises and burns fall within the category of Emergency Medical Care. Most of these have a set healing time. Once you've been checked and treated for these types of injuries, the next thing to be concerned about are soft tissue injuries.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries are those injuries which happen to all the remaining tissues of the body. These include sprains and strains of the musculoskeletal system, including the spine and neck. The most prevalent soft tissue injury found in auto accidents in known as whiplash.
Whiplash is a term used to describe what happens to your head and neck in an automobile accident. It can occur at any angle; head on collisions, rear-end impacts, from any corner, or from being T-Boned, which is impact from the side.
The ill effects of a whiplash injury can occur instantly or it could be weeks, months or even years before symptoms occur. Injuries to the neck caused by a sudden movement (head forward, back, or sideways) is commonly referred to as "whiplash" or "acceleration/deceleration injuries". Literally thousands of pounds of force is exerted upon the neck and spine of the whiplash victim. These forces result in tearing of muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and in turn, can result in a displacement of the vertebrae of the spine (subluxation) which is a dysfunctional joint causing nerve irritation (pinched spinal nerves). The results of such injuries can cause neck pain, shoulder and arm pain or numbness, elbow and hand pain or numbness, mid back pain, headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision. The injured areas lose the ability to function and loss of range of motion (stiffness) occurs. This is where whiplash pain comes from. It's most prevalent in the neck - but can happen to any area of the spine or body.
Symptoms of Whiplash
Whiplash symptoms can include neck pain and stiffness, shoulder pain, headaches, back pain, arm pain, numbness or tingling in your fingers, dizziness or lightheadedness, mid back pain, low back pain, numbness or tingling down your legs. Whiplash may also produce facial pain, ringing in the ears or hearing loss, vertigo, blurred vision, or even hoarseness. Whiplash is real and painful. You may experience one or many of the above symptoms. Each person is unique in their injuries.
The Problem With WhiplashThe problem with whiplash is that very few doctors truly understand it. Well meaning emergency room physicians, general medical doctors and physical therapists do not appreciate the extent of the pain and injuries of whiplash accident victims. The end result is these people are often provided inadequate treatment to care for their injuries. Don't let this happen to you.
Whiplash Injuries Can Remain Hidden For Weeks Or Months
Because of the body's ability to adapt to injury, some whiplash injuries can remain hidden for weeks or months before pain or other symptoms surface. By the time symptoms surface, many people have already signed their right s to treatment away. Insurance companies know the facts and spend millions of dollars a year to hide them. It is no secret that insurance companies may not have your best interest in mind and attempt to get you to prematurely settle your claim in order that they can avoid additional liability. Insurance companies are controlled by stockholders whose primary aim is to make money. Their concern is not your health. Their concern is to get you to settle for as little as possible. If you do, what happens when hidden challenges begin surfacing? Don't let this happen to you. Preserve your rights to receive the treatment you need by not signing away your rights.
Chiropractic is the most appropriate approach to these types of injuries. As a Chiropractor, I utilize specific bone manipulations (Adjustments) to help normalize spinal function. This is crucial in the beginning phases of healing to bring back proper motion, but return of functional joint motion usually requires 2-3 months of chiropractic care. Active care allows the soft tissue (muscles, ligaments, and tendons) to heal most effectively with minimal scar tissue and physical therapy can take from a few months up to a year to complete the healing process.
The 3 Phases of HealingThere are 3 phases of healing that our bodies must undergo in any type of injury and chiropractic combined with physiotherapy is the most effect approach to all soft tissue injuries. The initial phase of healing (Acute Inflammatory Phase) usually lasts 24 to 72 hours and ice (Cryotherapy) and immobilization (Neck Brace) is essential during this phase. The next phase of healing (Regeneration Phase) begins around 3 to 5 days post injury and can last up to 3-6 months. Chiropractic care combined with passive modalities is crucial to achieve maximum improvement of joint function during this phase of healing. This is when damaged tissue is replaced by new tissue (Collagen). Mobilization to the injured joints (chiropractic care) is essential to proper healing during this phase of care. The third and final phase of care (Remodeling Phase) begins about 2 to 4 weeks after the injury and can last longer than 1 year in very severe cases. Remodeling overlaps the regeneration phase of healing and this is when chiropractic and physical therapy is combined. Remodeling is when new tissue (Collagen) begins and continues to strengthens. It is essential to be seeing a physical therapist 2 to 4 weeks post injury to reduce recovery time during the remodeling phase. Always remember chiropractic first, medicine and physiotherapy second, and surgery last.
Pain, Why Me?
Pain is an indicator that a problem within are bodies exists. Without pain our bodies could not tell us that there is an injury and that there is something wrong. Usually the absence of pain and swelling after injury is an exceedingly poor indicator of healing tissue. Most minor to moderate whiplash injuries are overlooked by the patient, the hospital, and even the patient's family medical provider due to the lack of initial pain. One week up to 2 months after the injury, the patient continues to have pain or the pain worsens, is when most people begin to realize that the injury is much worse then they had imagined.
Effects of Improper Treatment
Improper treatment of whiplash injuries and all soft tissue injuries is a factor in about 50% of the patient's that finally present themselves to our clinic. Some patients are given a soft cervical collar by there medical doctor. If this collar is worn too long, the collar itself can further weaken supportive muscles and actually lengthen recovery time. If a muscle, ligament, tendon, or joint is subject to prolonged immobilization after injury or surgery this can have significant and profound negative effects. If a fracture is present the patient is to be first seen by Neuro-surgeon to rule out spinal cord injury and will more than likely have to where a special collar/halo until the fracture is healed. Once the fractured vertebrae is healed the patient should be sent to a physical therapist to minimize the negative affects of the prolonged immobilization of the soft tissues. Most MD's and DO's prescribe muscle relaxors, pain medications, and anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) first and skip chiropractic and physical therapy all together.
Don't Take Unnecessary Chances
In whiplash injuries, ligaments, muscles and joints are stretched and torn out of their original positions. When this happens, the nerves become compressed and cause pain. Without proper care, the injury can progressive grow worse, because the neck vertebrate are now unstable and disc decay can form. Your ligaments and other soft tissues can heal with scar tissue, and your vertebrate may heal in the wrong positions, creating long-term instability and weakness. This is a permanent condition known as fibrosis, the pain is real and can last a lifetime. Don't take unnecessary chances.
Please call our office for a consultation and full workup at 916-979-0716.