A car accident is something no one asks to be involved in. Yet, according to CDOT, there are around 125,000 car accidents each year in Colorado. With the amount of new residents moving in to the state, combined with the uptick in texting while driving, the roads are more dangerous than ever. It’s likely that anyone reading this blog post will have been involved/ will be involved in a car accident. Therefore, understanding the common injuries that occur and addressing them will reduce the amount of future suffering. The local Centennial chiropractors at Prime Chiropractic, the only Neuro-Structural Chiropractic clinic in the area, explain the most common injuries in a car accident.
The Most Common Injuries In a Car Accident Include:
This is also referred to as a sprain/strain injury. Whiplash typically occurs when your vehicle is hit from behind. The impact causes the head to snap in a front-to-back motion. The jerkiness may leave the neck muscles in spasm. It may also cause shifting of the vertebrae (more on this later). Whiplash doesn’t always show up immediately following an accident. In fact, sometimes it can take a few days for the true pain levels to show up. This is because the pain is often masked by adrenaline from the accident, as well as an inflammatory response in the body that takes a few days to kick into full gear. If addressed early on, whiplash can show significant improvement. Cases that are not approached correctly, or at all risk the possibility of chronic pain and disability.
Slipped and Bulging Discs
Discs are like jelly in a donut. The jelly pads the two ends of the donut and keeps them from touching. In the spine, the discs work similarly. They act as shock absorbers and spacers between vertebrae. As long as the vertebrae remain in their normal position, the discs usually don’t have anywhere to go. However, when there is a significant impact or force, like in a car accident, the possibility for movement of the vertebrae is likely. Just a small shift in one vertebrae can result in a disc bulge. Imagine squeezing a donut just right so that jelly oozes out. This is essentially what happens. In the body, there are nerves that run near the disc and vertebrae. If either the vertebrae or the disc has moved out of position, this typically will irritate or pinch the nerve. This leads to pain and discomfort after a car accident.
Shifting of the Spine
Because of the extreme force that can be generated in a car accident, it’s common for a victim to experience shifting in the spine. This movement out of the normal position puts pressure on the nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the area. Obviously, this can result in pain and discomfort. It can also result in symptoms such as: radiating pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness into the arms and legs. If this shifting is not corrected, it may lead to spinal degeneration and arthritis in the future. This is due to the abnormal wear and tear that the vertebrae will experience as a result of losing their normal position.
Concussion or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Concussions are common injuries in a car accident because of the abrupt force. This jerky motion causes the head to move rapidly and then come to a stop just as quickly. The brain sits inside the skull, suspended in fluid. It has the ability to move around. When the head moves quickly and then comes to an abrupt stop, the brain slams into the walls of the skull. This is where the concussion, or traumatic brain injury occurs. The head does not need to hit anything to trigger a concussion. With that said, if a car accident victim is hit from the side by another car, their risk of serious head injury goes up. Due to the fact the windows are nearby and the head often slams into them during a collision from the side. Also, there is less padding on the side of the skull. Therefore, the risk of concussion goes up in this kind of car accident.
What Should I Do If I Have an Injury From a Car Accident?
After an auto-accident, things speed up. Police, insurance companies, and attorneys all may become involved. This can be overwhelming for any person who has never been in an accident. However, don’t let the legal situation alarm you from getting the medical attention you need. Even if you don’t “feel” different, it’s encouraged to seek out a healthcare provider who specializes in car accidents so that you can ensure nothing serious happened.
As mentioned previously, injuries in a car accident don’t have to cause significant pain, initially. If pain or disability begins much later after an accident, but no action was taken to seek out attention earlier on, the likelihood of being reimbursed for the pain and suffering is very low. Therefore, make sure to seek out a provider properly trained in addressing the most common injuries in a car accident.
What Doctor Should I Go to After a Car Accident?
In most accident injuries involving the head/neck, there will be significant shifting in the spine. The nerves, muscles, and tissues around the shifting will be aggravated and pain/discomfort levels will rise. Without identifying the problem and correcting it, the car accident victim risks continuing pain levels and the strong possibility of chronic pain.
As stated above, in a car accident involving the head/neck, the muscles surrounding these areas will be irritated. Therefore, it’s important to have someone who can help address the tissues surrounding the spine to bring better balance and heal any scar tissue that may have developed during the car accident. A physical therapist will be helpful in restoring normal function.
Because the medical field is very broad, you may need to visit several medical doctors. It may be necessary to see a pain specialist to help relieve some of the pain temporarily through medication and/or injections, while correcting the underlying problems through chiropractic and physical therapy. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may also be important to seek out a surgeon.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
You didn’t ask to be involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, now that there are pains and problems that never used to be present in your body, they must be addressed. Otherwise, these common injuries that happen in a car accident will only get worse. Once you get home from a car accident, one of the first steps should be to find a specialist and have an examination performed to ensure nothing is significantly wrong in your body. Improve your pain and symptoms so that you don’t have to battle them in the future.