There are over 310,000 traffic crashes every year in Florida, resulting in approximately 210,000 injuries and over 2,400 fatalities. Drivers, passengers, and pedestrians involved in anything ranging from a minor fender bender to a multi-car pileup are at risk to develop mild to severe injury and pain that can adversely affect their health and quality of live over a long period of time.
Certain risk factors make people more susceptible to injuries during an automobile collision. One essential factor is the position of the head at the moment of impact. If the headrest, one of the most important collision injury prevention tools you have at hand, is not positioned as high as or slightly higher than the top of the head, with a distance of at least 2 inches between the back of the head and the front of the headrest, then the spine becomes more likely to sustain an injury. Other important factors are the mass and speed of the vehicles, as well as age, insufficient crash protection, poor visibility, and use of alcohol and drugs.
Most Common Types of Injury Resulting from a Car Accident
Motor vehicle accidents commonly result in joint, tissue, neck, and spine injuries. Anything from a minor fender bender to a high-speed collision can cause an injury, which can be visible immediately after the impact or show up days, weeks, or even months later.
Whiplash injuries can typically be felt within the first few days from the accident. This type of injury occurs when the force of a rear-impact collision suddenly “whips” the cervical spine backward and then forward. The abrupt jolt not only knocks the spine out of its natural alignment, but also strains the neck and back muscles, further causing stiffness, soreness, and pain.
In some cases, individuals may experience only mild discomfort and pain as the muscles tense up, but in more severe cases, the consequences can be serious and long-term. Whiplash injuries are known to affect the base of the nerve roots, facet joints, and ligaments, which in the long run can lead to higher risk for headaches, chronic back pain, sleep disorders, and fatigue. Injury in the ligaments can lead to instability and may also be the cause of more severe conditions such as arthritis and degenerative disc disease.
Often occurring with whiplash-related symptomatology, post-traumatic headaches are another common injury resulting from motor vehicle accidents. They are considered secondary headaches according to the updated International Classification of Headache Disorders and require a correct and prompt diagnosis and more immediate intervention in order to decrease the higher morbidity rate.
People who have been involved in a car accident can also experience acute neck and back pain, pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades, weakness in the upper or lower limbs, and jaw pain. The face can also be injured by almost anything in the car, including the steering wheel, dashboard, airbags, side window, shattered glass, etc. Psychological injury is also common, especially after serious car accidents involving injured loved ones and loss of life, and range from emotional distress and post-traumatic stress disorder to anxiety and depression.
What Can a Chiropractor Do for a Car Crash Victim?
When choosing a doctor for the assessment of your injuries after you’ve been involved in a car crash, it is best to go to someone who has experience and expertise in diagnosing and treating this sort of injury. A trip to the ER following a car accident will typically rule out fractures and severe trauma, but will fail to address the less visible, yet equally important, conditions.
Chiropractors specialize in complementary and alternative medicine, knowing how to diagnose, treat, and prevent disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system. The chiropractic treatment techniques for car accident injuries include chiropractic adjustments (spinal manipulation), which gently moves the injured joints into the direction in which they have become restricted.
Chiropractic care for this type of injury also includes applying gentle stretches to the muscles that are excessively tensed or repeated contractions of muscles that are inhibited. Different types of stabilization/sensorimotor exercises can be employed as part of the chiropractic treatment for whiplash and other car accident injuries.
Resorting to chiropractic care following a car accident has numerous benefits, including:
- Chiropractors can discover and promptly treat a range of unseen injuries whose symptoms may be covered by the shock and adrenaline of the recent impact.
- Chiropractic care consists solely of minimally-invasive procedures that do not have severe side effects or prolonged recovery time.
- Chiropractic care employs only safe and natural treatments, excluding from treatment plans painkillers and other drugs with severe side effects.
- Chiropractic care is now covered by most insurance providers, offering clients multiple visits to the chiropractor as part of their coverage.
Contacting a chiropractor after being involved in a car accident is a step in the right direction towards diagnosing existing problems and discovering underlying issues arisen from the impact. Contact your local chiropractic office to discuss the damage your body has sustained and the proper course of treatment for full and speedy recovery.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.