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What to Expect and Do After a Car Accident

Many people know it is important to get checked by a car accident chiropractor after an accident. Being in an auto accident is serious business, even if it happened at a slow speed. Even a minor impact can injure your body, which could result in eventual pain and stiffness, and worse, degeneration and arthritis in your spine. You may not even hurt right away, even though tissues in the neck or back could have been injured.

You should always get checked by a chiropractor right away after a car accident, especially if something does not feel right with you. Many people will go to an emergency room or an urgent care for a one-time evaluation. Usually there will be an examination there to make sure there are no broken bones or life-threatening problems.
One thing to remember is that an emergency room or urgent care is not going to be concerned as a chiropractor will with whether you will have problems with the muscles and joints of your neck and back in the future. They have not had specialized training to appreciate the potentially devastating effects that auto accidents can have on their future. Your ability to enjoy life, be productive at work, enjoy your family and hobbies are all at stake.

An Albuquerque chiropractor will typically tell you that If there is swelling in the neck or back, ice the area every 2 hours for 20 minutes while you are awake for 2 days after the auto accident. Drink extra fluids. You can take warm showers or baths to help loosen up muscle spasms. Do not engage in any strenuous activities that could possibly worsen things. No lifting which could aggravate an auto injury.
It would be best to not take aspirin since aspirin is a blood thinner. Aspirin may increase the effect of any bruising or increase any bleeding of any injured muscles, ligaments or other tissues inside the body.Generalized symptoms that potentially could develop from neck whiplash or back injury after a car accident include numbness, tingling, weakness or pain in your shoulders, arms or legs, headaches, changes in your bowels or bladder, shortness or breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting or sweating, and abdominal (belly) discomfort.

If you have suffered a whiplash injury to your neck, this is called a cervical sprain or strain injury. Whiplash injuries are common after a car accident, even a minor one. They occur when the neck is forcefully whipped or forced backwards and/or forwards or from side to side. This can occur whether hit from any side, front or back during the auto accident. It happens so quickly that you may not even realize your head was whipped.

This type of injury can also occur to your upper back or lower back, possibly both. The back can be forcefully thrown around as well. Lap belt and shoulder harnesses worn in the automobile add to the problem when the trunk gets thrown backwards and forwards or the side. These belts grab the torso and throw it back into the car’s seat. This can cause the sprain and strain as well as bruising of the chest, breasts or abdomen (belly).

The sprain injury can include over-stretching or even small tears in the ligaments that hold the vertebra bones of your neck and back in place, and the discs between the vertebrae of the spine. The strain part of the auto injury affects muscles and tendons, which are over-stretched and potentially torn as well. Both sprain and strain injuries can occur together.

Symptoms that can occur from a whiplash include pain, stiffness, soreness, or burning sensations in the front, back or sides of the neck or back. This may develop immediately after an auto accident or develop hours or even days after the car wreck. Other common symptoms that develop include pain in one or both shoulders, upper back or lower back, stiffness in trying to move the neck or back, headache, dizziness, weakness or abnormal sensations such as numbness or tingling of one or both arms and/or hands, hips or legs, muscles spasms, and difficulty swallowing or chewing.
You should get checked as soon as possible by a chiropractic doctor that has had extensive training in the effects of auto accidents, and fully understands how these car accidents can have long-term residual effects on the body, especially the nervous system. A chiropractor that has had advanced training in whiplash and neurology would be a good candidate. I’m a firm believer in that, so I do have that training, so that I can help my patients recover as quickly as possible.

A careful, detailed history and examination by a chiropractor is needed to check for any and all potential problems with the joints, discs, ligaments, muscles of the neck and back, and with the nervous system. This is done for two reasons: one to formulate a specific chiropractic treatment plan to reduce pain and rehabilitate the weakened tissues to the way they were before the car accident. The other reason is to fully document the auto injury so that yours or the other party’s car insurance company will know all the needed information to cover you for your injury, your pain and your suffering, especially if there is a permanent disability as a result.