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Chiropractic Evaluations After an Auto Accident

Auto Accidents also known as motor vehicle collisions, car accidents, or car crashes can result is serious physical injury to the spine including injury to the neck and low back. Symptoms may occur immediately following a traffic accident or sometimes the symptoms may not show up until several weeks later. Due to this fact many times it is a good idea to have a chiropractic evaluation performed that consists of orthopedic and neurological tests as well as range of motion.  

There are certain risk factors that make people more susceptible to injuries in an automobile collision. One very important factor is the position of the head at the moment of impact. If the head is turned or the headrest is not positioned slightly higher that the back of the head then the spine is more susceptible to injury especially to the ligament that hold the vertebrae in alignment.  

Another important factor is the mass of the vehicles in the collision and the velocity of the vehicles. There appears to be some disagreement about the likelihood and extent of injury between medical literature and insurance companies that pay accident claims. In particular the forces noted in accidents at the 5-10 km/h were twice as risky as accidents that occurred at 10-15 km/h. The elasticity of the vehicle accounts for this difference. Simply put cars are designed to handle higher impacts better than lower impacts by absorbing more of the energy. So a person may be more prone to injury at times in lower speed collisions than higher speed.

 Whiplash injury may include more than just soft tissue injury to muscles that may heal on their own. Medical literature has documented whiplash injuries in the base of nerve roots, facet joints and ligaments. This can lead to long term problems including an increased risk for headaches, back pain and sleep disturbances leading to fatigue and immune compromise. Ligamentous injury may lead to instability and cause the progression of degenerative joint changes such as arthritis and degenerative disc disease. Although some of these changes may occur naturally with aging, injury to the disc or ligaments can accelerate this process significantly. 

 Other important risk factors for injury in a motor vehicle accident include awareness of the approaching accident, sex, age and pre-existing conditions that make the spine more susceptible to injury with less force. An elderly woman on a motorcycle with her head turned and advanced rheumatoid arthritis rear-ended by an 18 wheeler going 5-10 km/h is not going to hold up as well as a young healthy, power lifter that is hit by a Volkswagen at 20-25 km/h. 

 When choosing a doctor for evaluation of your injuries following a car accident, it is wise to find someone who has experience and expertise in diagnosing and treating this sort of injury. A trip to the emergency room will typically rule out any fractures or concerns that are immediate but will often fail to address the more subtle yet still important conditions. The second step would be obtaining a comprehensive examination performed by a doctor that specializes in auto accident injuries to correctly diagnose and treat the injuries directly related to the accident.




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