What should you do after a car accident in St. George?

A lot of things happen after a car crash. A question that always comes up is: What do I do now? You may also ask: Am I going to hurt? Most often bodily injury is the first thing you experience. Some injury symptoms occur immediately after the crash while others can take days to weeks to appear. A trained healthcare professional should examine all symptoms and take into consideration what you are feeling and experiencing. When you have been evaluated by someone who is a trained healthcare provider for car accident victims, the next step may be to find an attorney who works with personal injury cases. 

Oftentimes your doctor will know of a few personal injury attorneys and can then refer you to one. This step is important because dealing with insurance can be tricky and attorneys who deal with personal injury cases have the knowledge and training to help in these situations when you may feel confused and even overwhelmed. You may even feel scared or nervous to hire an attorney thinking that you will have to pay the attorney when everything is said and done. However, personal injury attorneys know the legal in’s and out’s of insurance policies and how to deal with insurance to help you get the treatment and care you need to recover from an auto accident.

Always be cautious after a car crash. Even the slightest changes to your normal could be serious. It’s also wise to see an auto accident chiropractor who is specialized and trained to recognize issues that arise from car crashes. At the very least you should see your doctor to make sure that everything is okay. It is very important to seek care right after an auto accident. The sooner that you can get treatment the faster the recovery. A trained professional will go through a thorough exam and history to get a full picture of the extent of the injuries and then lay out a treatment plan that best suits your recovery. Imaging such as x-rays will also be obtained for the injured areas. This is important to see the health of the joints and bones involved. In some circumstances, an MRI will be necessary to get a full clinical picture of all the tissues that have been injured. This type of imaging shouldn’t be discounted because the cost of a lifetime of pain and suffering from an undetected injury is much greater than that of an MRI. When the full extent of all the injuries have been detected then it is important to have other healthcare professionals involved in the management of your care. Some injuries will often need more than an adjustment or injection or pill. Some cases require some other medical or surgical intervention other than your body’s natural healing ability.

What are the most common symptoms of an auto accident? 

  • Neck Pain
  • Back Pain
  • Headaches

Most often the term whiplash is used to describe the symptoms of neck pain related to a car crash. Even auto accidents that occur at slow speeds can cause whiplash to anyone involved. Whiplash occurs when the head is forcefully thrown in one direction or another during an auto accident. This forced movement is more than what your head and neck usually experience which leads to muscle and ligament tearing and subsequent pain and inflammation. Whiplash can be sneaky and can go for weeks without showing any signs of symptoms. This delay can result in thinking that the victim is okay and consequently failing to seek medical attention. Some common signs and symptoms of whiplash are headaches, neck pain or stiffness, shoulder pain, jaw pain, numbness or tingling sensation in arms or shoulders, and fatigue. When people think of whiplash they usually think of neck injuries but low back whiplash is also common. 

Spine or back issues after an auto accident:

Injured spinal discs or other spine areas resulting from a car crash are extremely common injuries. Having a back that has sustained these types of injuries can decrease your quality of life, limit your job options in the future and slow you down from enjoying everyday activities. Spine and back injuries are serious and should not be overlooked. A bulging, herniated or slipped disc can become worse after a car accident that can relate to intense pain, numbness, or radiating pain. Low back whiplash also fits into the category of spine or back issues following a car crash. Some of the most common symptoms of back or spine pain include back stiffness, inability to stand up fully, pain accompanied by sudden movements (e.g. cough, sneeze or laugh), tenderness to the touch, and spasms of the back muscles. 

Traumatic head injuries:

A traumatic brain injury or TBI is a serious injury from car crashes that you can experience. Another term used in conjunction with a TBI is a concussion. Concussions can be from a whiplash injury or from forcefully hitting your head against something during the accident. This kind of injury may also be delayed in showing symptoms by up to a few weeks after. A TBI should not be dismissed and should be carefully evaluated by your healthcare professional because they can be life-altering and some, if serious enough, can be potentially fatal. 

Symptoms of a concussion or TBI:

  • Occasional loss of consciousness
  • Persistent headache
  • Nausea
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Difficult to be roused from sleep or extreme drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Sudden behavioral changes or mood swings
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Seizures
  • Numbness or tingling sensations

If you experience or have other symptoms that are worrying that aren’t listed it would be wise to ask your healthcare provider about it so that it can be addressed. If untreated a TBI or concussion can lead to permanent memory loss, change in behavior or chronic pain.

Other conditions that can arise from an auto accident are rotator cuff syndrome/tears, carpal tunnel syndrome, and golfer’s/tennis elbow. The rotator cuff is a collection of four muscles that help to hold the shoulder within the socket. It is also called the rotator cuff because these muscles rotate the shoulder joint into internal and external rotation as well as slight elevation. These muscles are susceptible to injury and tearing, especially if your arms are bracing before the impact of a car crash. Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually deemed a chronic condition with symptoms such as numbness and tingling in the thumb and first two fingers and even grip strength weakness. Again, bracing before impact can cause overextension in the wrist which can stretch the tendons and nerves within the wrist causing inflammation that leads to acute carpal tunnel syndrome. Golfer’s/tennis elbow is also considered an overuse and chronic condition, yet can become acute after an auto accident. These conditions are characterized by repetitive movements of the elbows and wrists that cause inflammation of the muscle tendons that attach to the inside and outside of the elbows. Golfer’s/tennis elbow becomes acute when bracing during impact of a car crash.  Every condition will be meticulously examined and determined by exam, history, and imaging.

Chiropractic care following a car accident:

Chiropractic care is considered one of the best treatments following an auto accident because of the hands-on and conservative approach this treatment provides. Chiropractic care is not limited to just adjustments or manipulations, it also consists of ultrasound therapy, electrical muscle stimulation, laser therapy, ozone and homeopathy injections, decompression and myofascial release. Ultrasound is similar to the ultrasound used for pregnant women with growing babies except it is used with a different frequency for therapeutic purposes. Electrical muscle stimulation or EMS is used to help tight and tender muscles to relax and reduce the pain signal being sent to the brain. EMS is done by placing an even number of electrode pads on the skin and then an electrical current is sent between them to create the desired therapy. Myofascial release is similar to EMS in that it helps tight and tender muscles relax, minimizing spasm and encouraging blood flow to the tissues. Laser therapy is used to help all soft tissues like muscles, tendons and ligaments to heal by a process called photobiomodulation. A big word that just means that the laser encourages the tissues to upregulate the healing process and create an environment where inflammation is controlled without being detrimental. Ozone and homeopathic injections are used to also modulate pain and inflammation while increasing the body’s ability to heal damaged tissues. Decompression is used to help herniated or bulging discs to decompress and withdraw back into the confines of the disc itself to heal and reduce pain and radiating symptoms like numbness and tingling into the extremities. Your doctor will consult with you on what will be the best course for your treatment and what methods will benefit you the most. Not every patient is the same so not every treatment plan will be the same. It is also important through your care that you communicate with your provider how you are feeling and whether you are noticing changes in symptoms for either good or bad.

If you are feeling these types of symptoms it is important to seek care from an auto accident chiropractor. The reason for finding a chiropractor who specializes in auto accidents is because of the experience and training that they have to identify serious injuries that may be missed by even emergency services. After an initial visit to an auto accident chiropractor or physician and having imaging studies done it may be prudent that you also receive a second opinion from another provider who can back up or confirm the initial findings. You can not risk your future health or suffer from chronic pain from the lack of treatment following a car crash.

The most important thing about a personal injury case is to stay consistent with the treatment plan your healthcare provider has set up. Any changes or gaps in care can make a personal injury case more difficult for your recovery and for your attorney. Once you have gone through a full treatment plan and your healthcare provider finds that you have reached your maximum medical improvement they will release you from care. Over the course of your care and treatment, your doctor and attorney will work together to build a case for you so that your insurance, or the at-fault party’s insurance, will cover all medical and legal costs. Insurance companies look for proof of injury. This proof comes from meticulous record-keeping and serious imaging findings. Having more than one provider confirm the initial findings after an auto accident shows an insurance company that not only do you need the right care but that you are motivated to get better. Complete and impeccable records equate to proof of injury to an insurance company.

If you have been in a car accident or if you know of a loved one who has been and you are experiencing any of these symptoms we would advise you to seek medical help and find a chiropractor who specializes in treating victims of car crashes. Chronic and lifelong conditions will arise if you do not seek some sort of care after a car accident. The sooner you can receive care for the injuries sustained after a car crash the quicker your recovery and the less likelihood of life-altering and long-lasting effects from a traumatic experience. If you have any questions you can call our office and we would be happy to answer any of your concerns.