Car Accident Related Injuries
Even "fender-benders" can cause hidden injuries that can develop into pain, headaches, and arthritis. Even worse, most people who have been involved in an auto accident may not even know that they've been hurt.
The chiropractic approach to these types of injuries is to use specific chiropractic adjustments to help return spinal function.
After a thorough case history and examination, the doctor will recommend any necessary care to help restore proper motion and position of spinal bones. If caught early enough, inflammation can be reduced and scar tissue can often be minimized.
San Jose Auto Injury Clinic of Dr. Rafii treats many of the ailments of an auto injury including (Click on a topic below for more information):
- Sprains and Strains
- Shoulder and Neck Pain
- Dizziness & Vertigo
- Lower Back Pain
- Pain in Legs or Arms
- Car Seat-belt Injury
Mechanisms of Injury in Car Accidents
Even in slow-speed traffic collisions that result in minor damage to the vehicles involved, the bodies in those vehicles can still suffer significant trauma. Most car accidents result in what some might consider minor injuries, meaning that they are not life-threatening. This does not mean that those who survive a car accident with minor injuries will have no lasting effects; some “minor” car accident injuries can actually result in long-lasting pain and suffering and decreased enjoyment of life.
Injury to the neck, or whiplash, is a common car accident injury that can happen at the slowest of speeds and results from the vehicle coming to an abrupt halt while the body actually stays in motion. The seatbelt halts the body’s movement, but the neck snaps forward and back in response. The rest of the spine is involved in whiplash, too: the spine actually takes on an unnatural S-shape momentarily, pushing the lower spine out of its normal C-shaped position. The result is instant trauma to ligaments and spinal discs. Though it takes only a moment to experience whiplash, the effects can be painful and long-lasting and it is important to seek medical attention for even the slightest symptoms of whiplash, which can include tension headaches in roughly 65% of whiplash sufferers, as well as tightened muscles, sore spots and pain that radiates into the shoulders and down the back.
The chest cavity and the organs it protects are also susceptible to injury in a car crash. Bruising of internal organs might not show itself in external symptoms, so a thorough medical examination following a car crash is important. Other areas likely to be injured in a traffic collision are the knees, which can suffer damage if they are forced into the steering column or dashboard. The ankles are also a weak spot that can suffer injury when seats move due to collision force or the interior cavity caves in.
Spinal injuries are the most common injury reported in traffic collisions, aside from head injuries which account for nearly 50% of all car crash-related injuries. In car crashes involving speeds over 45 mph, some trauma or injury to the spine is almost guaranteed. The tremendous, instant force of most car crashes jars the body, jolting the frame forward and backward, and from side to side. The spine absorbs a great majority of the impact involved in any traffic collision, and injuries can range from dislocation and bruising of ligaments and muscles to actual broken vertebrae.
Patient Treatment and Recovery
From the arrival of the paramedics at the scene of a traffic collision, to the emergency room where patients are transported, medical experts are trained to keep a watchful eye out for every type of injury, particularly head, neck and spinal injuries that could lead to further damage or paralysis if not handled properly. For these reasons, paramedics always err on the side of caution and supply neck and spinal bracing appliances to every car accident patient they transport. Immobilizing these areas can prevent further injury and can even save a life.
Above all, seeking medical attention after every car accident is vital. It is not uncommon to feel unharmed after a minor collision and turn down offers for a medical assessment. Within twenty-four hours though, previously unnoticed injuries can make themselves known in the form of swelling and bruising. Internal injuries might show no external symptoms, so seeking a medical consultation can prove to be lifesaving. Legally, refusing medical attention after a car accident can hurt a plaintiff’s case should the accident lead to litigation. For so many reasons, a thorough medical examination after a traffic collision is wise and prudent.
Hospital personnel are effective at identifying and treating a variety of injuries that occur during a car accident, and the emergency room is the best place to head after such an occurrence to rule out any life-threatening or critical injuries. Days later, many accident victims experience the aftermath of soft tissue damage, and significant and painful swelling and discomfort can be expected. In these cases, chiropractic adjustments can often provide relief and help prevent problems that can lead to a lifetime of chronic pain. Following up with a general practitioner in conjunction with chiropractic adjustments can help speed healing and provide treatment to most every type of injury.
Recovery after a car accident can be slow. The soft tissue damage that often results from a car accident can take significant time to heal. Pain management prescribed by a patient’s family doctor can provide temporary relief, but there are many things that patients can do during recovery time to help their recovery progress. Regular chiropractic assessments can monitor healing progress and help soothe strains and discomfort during recovery in addition to any treatments or medication prescribed by a general practitioner. Gentle stretching and moderate movement can help patients feel better both mentally and physically, and proper nutrition, rest and good fluid intake can all help put accident victims on the road to recovery.
Prognosis of Car Accident Injuries
For the best prognosis after a car accident, patients are advised to closely adhere to doctors’ orders and complete all prescribed treatments. In order to ensure the best recovery possible, patients should maintain open lines of communication with all medical personnel involved in their cases. Taking some time to look over medical records pertaining to the accident is an important step for guaranteeing the most thorough care possible. Making sure that the doctors understand exactly what happened during the car accident can help ensure the best care and give doctors a better idea of injuries that were possibly sustained in the collision.
In the days, weeks and months following a car accident, recovery can be slow and painful, but keeping all doctor appointments and closely following prescribed treatments can offer the best results for quick and effective healing. Pre-existing conditions, such as arthritis and joint issues, can make injuries like whiplash more difficult to heal, but overall prognosis is good for neck and spine trauma when proper medical attention is received in a timely manner, though soft tissue injuries and injuries on older patients or those with previous injuries may take more time to heal. Having patience with the healing process and seeking thorough medical care are the best ways to speed healing after any accident.
Why Patients Need to See a Doctor After a Car Accident
For many reasons, those involved in any type of car accident should consider seeing a doctor as soon as possible for an assessment, even if they feel uninjured. Immediately following a car accident, many seemingly minor but significant injuries that need treatment may not be apparent. High adrenaline levels that occur after an accident can mask many symptoms and pain; it’s the body’s natural defense mechanism that helps us get through emergencies, even if we are injured. After the body has calmed and is rested, aches and pains often reveal themselves and inflammation around sore spots can indicate injuries that were not apparent just hours before. To be on the safe side, consulting with a doctor can ensure the diagnosis of injuries that might not be apparent, such as internal bruising or bleeding or a concussion.
Legally speaking, seeking a doctor’s evaluation can be important to a legal claim regarding any traffic collision. Refusing medical help after an accident may make it more difficult to file a claim with insurance or seek damages from another party. It is recommended that no claim related to an accident be settled until each party has been seen by a doctor.
Patient Rights after a Car Accident
Regardless of who is at fault, everyone involved in a car accident has certain rights. Most importantly, addressing medical issues immediately is the primary concern after any accident, and accident victims are encouraged to call local authorities to report the incident and summon needed medical assistance. Every accident victim is entitled to proper medical attention after an accident, and seeking a medical assessment for even minor injuries after an accident could prove legally beneficial in the long run. Accident victims are also entitled to ask for insurance and contact information from other drivers involved in an accident, and they should willingly supply their own information, as well.
Following an accident, mounting medical bills, insurance paperwork, vehicle repair costs and missing income from being unable to work can add unwanted stress to an accident victim’s recovery time. After an accident, it is important to keep scheduled doctor appointments and carefully follow all prescribed treatments. Allowing some time for injuries to be properly diagnosed and a prognosis determined may impact a car accident settlement and accident victims have the right to take a wait-and-see approach before agreeing to any legal settlement. In many instances, time and patience are key tools to proper accident litigation and beneficial resolutions.
Those involved in car accidents have the right to advocate for themselves in the legal arena. Seeking a consultation from a qualified and reputable attorney is a smart move, but keeping aware of the details of the case and being personally involved in any car accident litigation can save time, money and much frustration. Looking over police reports and medical records for discrepancies can eliminate misinformation, and it is important for accident victims to double-check the facts surrounding their cases. Often, the confusion and stress at an accident scene can lead eye-witnesses and those involved in an accident to offer details about an accident that are inaccurate. One person’s perception of what happened might not take into account issues like vehicle mechanical failures, malfunctioning streetlights or driver intoxication. Details like these can alter the outcome of a car accident legal case dramatically, and verifying facts related to the accident on official medical and police reports can help eliminate future confusion.
Myth and Reality of Accidents
There are many misconceptions about car accident injuries that often are used as evidence in court or as deciding factors in insurance claims. Understanding some important facts about car accidents can help accident victims advocate for their own rights and speak with authority to insurance claim adjustors and law enforcement.
- Myth: Car accident injuries are usually in proportion to the amount of damage done to a vehicle. Reality: The truth is that there is no proven correlation between extent of injuries and actual vehicle damage. Significant trauma to the body can occur inside a vehicle that endured only a minor collision and shows only a dent or two. Studies have shown that neck injuries can result from accidents that happen at speeds as low as 5 mph!
- Myth: Men and women are equally as likely to suffer a neck injury in a car accident. Reality: Women are, in fact, more likely than men to suffer whiplash in a car accident. A recent study from the Umea University of Sweden evaluated a number of low-velocity car accidents and determined that women suffer whiplash more often than men. The difference was attributed to the way female drivers sit in cars, which is usually closer to the steering wheel and more vertical than male drivers.
- Myth: If you don’t have pain right after an accident, you’re probably fine. Reality: Many soft tissue injuries, and neck injuries in particular, are often not discovered for many hours after an accident. Giving the body time to recover from the initial shock of an accident can help determine and diagnose many symptoms that were previously unnoticed.
- Myth: No immediate symptoms=no real whiplash. Reality: Just because an accident victim does not report immediate complaints of neck pain or stiffness following an accident, does not mean that whiplash has not occurred. The symptoms of whiplash can be evident immediately after an accident, or can manifest days or even weeks later, even for severe cases. Whiplash is a soft tissue injury that requires careful diagnosis and whiplash injury can exist even if MRIs and x-rays do not indicate that trauma has occurred.
- Myth: Using a hands-free device like Bluetooth minimizes cell phone-related car accidents. Reality: Many states now require the use of hands-free devices for cell phones with the intention of reducing the number of car accidents caused by distracted drivers. Recent studies indicate, though, that the real risk associated with talking on a cell phone while driving is linked to the distraction caused by the act of talking itself, whether or not a hands-free device is used. To play it safe, do not talk and drive!
- Myth: Most accidents don’t really happen within 5 miles of home. Reality: This claim may sound like an urban legend, but statistics prove time and again that the majority of car accidents really do occur close to home. Over-familiarity with the streets near home can lead drivers to bypass certain traffic precautions, skip the seatbelts and not notice things like new stop signs in their neighborhoods, all of which can have devastating consequences.
- Myth: Car accidents cause whiplash, not lower back pain. Reality: Some people think that neck pain is the most common car accident injury for low-velocity crashes, but lower back pain is a prevalent complaint, as well. Lower back pain is likely to result from a car accident because many accidents, especially rear and side-impact collisions, cause the spine to twist abnormally, putting stress on the joints where the pelvis and spine meet.
How Chiropractics Can Help After a Car Accident
Seeking chiropractic treatment after a car accident offers a multitude of benefits. Gentle, natural and homeopathic, chiropractics offers proven relief from pain, quicker healing time and lasting results. As a reliable alternative to conventional medicine, or in conjunction with other treatments, chiropractics offers safe, drug-free treatments that target the causes of pain and not just alleviation of the symptoms. Chiropractic care after a car accident attends to the soft tissue injuries that patients often report. A chiropractor will carefully monitor the healing of sore muscles and tender ligaments and ensure that they are healing over a spine that is in proper alignment. The result is complete healing and not just the masking of pain with medication.
Chiropractic adjustments have helped many car accident victims to avoid invasive and risky surgeries, overuse of pain pills and years of residual discomfort from injuries that healed poorly. With safe, quick and painless chiropractic adjustments, patients can rest assured that soft tissue injuries like whiplash will heal properly, enabling them to live pain-free and move past the physical and emotional trauma of the accident as quickly as possible.
Contact a San Jose Car Accident Chiropractor today at 408.295.5559 or EMAIL US NOW