Over 2 million people get injured in the United States every year from car accidents. Having a car accident comes with all types of stress. Dealing with repairs, missing work, and trying to deal with your injuries can be debilitating. Some chiropractors, like Dr French, specialize in the treatment of auto injuries. Getting the right treatment is important to start feeling better fast, and to make sure you don’t have lingering pain.
What happens in a car accident?
No two accidents are alike. The type of vehicles involved, their speeds, and the direction of impact all change the amount of force that pushes your body around in the car. Additionally, the position that you are in at the moment of the crash, and whether you tensed up or hit anything inside the car can affect the areas that hurt after an accident.
Generally, an accident causes the car to move or stop faster than usual. This rapid acceleration and deceleration of the car moves your body along with it, but each area of your body moves differently. For instance, in a rear end collision, your car is pushed forward suddenly. Since your body is touching the seat, it gets pushed forward faster than your head. A split second later, the car stops, and you get thrown forward with a whipping motion. Your neck drags your head forward, and your entire spine moves back and forth like a whip. Even if the car does not sustain severe damage, the speed at which your head and body move can contribute to a wide range of painful conditions.
Whiplash and other injuries
While your body is being thrown around the car in the space of a second or two, your muscles are trying to slow your motion by contracting as hard as they can. The muscles sacrifice themselves to try and prevent injury to the joints of the spine and the spinal cord itself. While this usually does a great job in keeping you from life threatening injuries, the overstretched muscles develop tears throughout their length. Add in the number of muscles involved, and recovery from an accident can be a complicated process.
If the joints are moved farther than they are meant to, the ligaments between the bones can be painfully stretched, or sprained. Surprisingly, the nerves can also be stretched by the force or compressed by swollen muscles, so tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands and feet are also common.
Of course, serious injuries have to be ruled out after a car accident. X-rays or other tests are sometimes needed to check for fractures, disk herniations or nerve damage.
Even though it is protected inside our skulls, the brain is often injured in an accident. Just like the occupants of a car are shaken back and forth during an accident, your brain can hit the insides of the skull and be hurt. This condition is called postconcussion syndrome (PCS) or mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). Some of the initial symptoms can be: feeling dazed after an accident, losing consciousness, or a loss of the memories of before or after the collision. Other late onset symptoms like headache, emotional changes, and difficulty concentrating can last for six months or more in some cases.
Neck pain is the most common complaint after an accident. However, headaches, lower back pain, and shoulder or upper back pain are almost as prevalent.
Treatment at our Norwalk office progresses in stages. Initially, the focus is on reducing the often intense pain that can make working and sleeping difficult. This is done by reducing the inflammation that builds up around injured body parts. The whipping motion of a car accident also causes the spinal bones to develop misalignments. We use adjustments and sometimes massage in this phase. A risk after a car accident is that the muscles and ligaments heal tighter than they were before. This can permanently limit your ability to move the way you are used to. Finally, exercise is added to bring everything back to its original strength. The ultimate goal being to return you completely back to pre-accident condition.
Make an Appointment
Dr French has years of experience treating a wide range of car accident injuries. We will work with your auto insurance company or your attorney to make sure care is covered. If you are near Norwalk, CT and have had an accident, contact us or click the button below to make an appointment and start feeling better as soon as possible.