Being involved in a car accident can be one of the most traumatizing events in a person’s life, both physically and emotionally. While no one ever wants to be in an automobile accident, it is important to know how to proceed with treating your injuries should you ever be involved in one. Visiting a chiropractor for evaluation and care is always one of the first things you should do, as these healthcare professionals specialize in treating many of the most common automobile accident-related injuries there are.
In most non-emergency car accident situations, symptoms may not appear until days after the collision, and some injuries don’t present themselves until months prior! Whiplash, in particular, tends to take weeks to present symptoms, and this is one of the most common injuries caused by auto accidents. Some severe cases of whiplash can manifest for up to two years following an auto accident, which is why it is important to always visit a chiropractor for an evaluation, even if you think there may not be a serious injury present. When you treat an injury like this right away, you are putting the body in the best possible position to heal and recover quickly, and most importantly, reduce the risk of causing permanent damage to your back.
The most common symptoms following an auto accident are neck pain, headaches, upper back and shoulder pain, lower back pain, stiff and sore muscles, and even chronic fatigue and mood changes. Whiplash can also result in lower back injuries, muscle injuries, ligament problems, and disc damage. A study done by the University of Bristol concluded that 93% of patients with a whiplash diagnosis responded favorably to chiropractic treatment. Gulf Coast Sport and Spine specializes in soft-tissue injuries that are the result of motor vehicle accidents; a soft-tissue injury can be permanent. Scar tissue can form in your muscles leaving them less flexible and prone to re-injury in the future without treatment. High-speed collisions are not the only ones that can cause damage; many injuries from car accidents occur at speeds less than 20 MPH. In fact, the Journal of Brain Injury published a study that concluded the following: “The amount of damage to the automobile bears little relation to the force applied to the cervical spine (neck) of the occupants.” In other words, even “minor” accidents are enough to cause significant injury to the spines of accident victims. Moreover, being in a minor accident often increases the chance of victims ignoring their injuries until they get worse.
The best advice I can give anyone who is involved in a car crash is to seek chiropractic care immediately, whether you are experiencing pain or not! Most medical professionals agree that the first 72 hours after an accident are critical, and that is the time treatment can be most effective. The treatment plan for PREVENTING pain is a much quicker and enjoyable process for the patient, as opposed to the treatment plan for RESOLVING pain which can be a much longer time-frame and is more rigorous on the patient. Statistics show the longer you wait for treatment after you are injured, the longer it takes to heal and more treatments are required. Many injuries will not heal on their own. Prompt functional treatment can restore normal function and prevent complications in the future.
Another reason to seek treatment in a prompt manner is to preserve your legal rights and supports any claims you might make regarding accident injuries that involve insurance companies and legal counsel. Many insurance companies set a time limit on claiming injuries related to car accidents. If you wait too long to see a chiropractor and end up with an injury outside of the designated time period, you could lose valuable coverage for treating the injury. The doctors at Gulf Coast Sport and Spine work with various personal injury lawyers in the area, and can give our patients recommendations if they feel the need for legal representation. Insurance companies have lawyers to protect them…shouldn’t you?