Chances are, at some point in your life you have been involved in some sort of automobile accident, either as a driver or passenger and suffered an auto injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated for an auto injury in emergency departments in 2009. Economically speaking, there is also a huge impact. The CDC also states that the lifetime costs of crash-related deaths and injuries in 2005 were around $70 billion. In Missouri alone, that number was $1.07 billion.
It is very important for anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident, even if you don't think or "feel" like you have an auto injury, to get your spine checked. In our Wentzville and St Charles Chiropractic offices, we stress this to our patients constantly. Many people do not seek care after an accident because they don’t feel like the accident was severe enough, or they don’t feel like their symptoms are severe enough. This can be a big mistake! Symptoms are not always the best way to judge the condition of your body. Your body is very adaptive, which means by the time you begin to notice severe symptoms of an auto injury it has already become well advanced. We have taken care of many patients who were involved in an accident decades ago, and thought they were fine, but the resulting mis-alignments in the spine resulted in an advancing of the degeneration process. If they would have had their spines checked at the time, they could have avoided some of the permanent effects that can result from this form of degeneration cause by the auto injury. Recent research shows that an accident at speeds as slow as 6 miles per hour can cause damage to the spine.
At our Wentzville and St Charles Chiropractic offices we know that some of these accidents are unavoidable. Our job, when someone comes in with an auto injury, is to make sure there are no major lasting effects to the body. In order to accomplish this goal, we must first perform a thorough chiropractic consultation and examination. During the consultation we obtain detailed information on the accident. Knowing if it was a front end collision, a rear end collision, or a collision from the side can change how we approach the examination and ultimately how we approach care. After the consultation, we begin the examination portion of the visit which many times includes x-rays, range of motion testing, posture analysis, palpation, muscle testing, and orthopedic testing.
Sometimes an auto injury can be easy to detect, such as bruising or even broken bones. Our job is to find the injuries that may be hidden, or may become apparent well after the initial injury. After the x-rays have been read by our radiologists, and all other testing has been analyzed, we develop a treatment appropriate for each individual’s case. The doctors then sit down with each individual to discuss and map out their course of care. We feel it is very important that the patient is educated and comfortable with the care that will be needed to return them to the activities they need to perform in daily life as they did before the auto injury.
One of the more common conditions associated with motor vehicle accidents is termed whiplash. Whiplash refers to injuries to the neck region which are caused by sudden movement of the head forward, backward, or sideways. These are the exact movements that come to mind when someone is involved in a motor vehicle accident and suffers an auto injury. Many times the resulting instability of the spine and soft tissues resulting from whiplash can contribute to pain in the neck, shoulders, mid-back, and low back, reduced range of motion, headaches, dizziness, and even blurred vision. Sometimes these symptoms appear within the first few days, but for some people as their body attempts to adapt, their symptoms may not show up until weeks or months later. That is why it is so important to get your spine checked as quickly as possible after an auto injury before these symptoms reach their peak, or they become lasting issues.
As chiropractors we have several goals for our patients who come into the office with an auto injury. We first strive to reduce and eventually remove any pain or discomfort that has resulted from the auto injury, along with that we look to normalize spinal function through specific chiropractic adjustments, we work to restore proper movement and position of the spine, and we help to reduce any inflammation or swelling that may be present. In addition to adjustments, care may include muscle relaxation techniques, inter-segmental traction, cervical traction, rehabilitation exercises, ice therapy, and massage. The severity of the injury will determine which procedures will be needed in order to return the patient to pre-accident status.