What To Expect After A Car Accident In Tallahassee, FL

So you just got into a car accident, what is the first thing you should think about? Are you in pain? Are you injured? How can you tell? Who should you turn to for a proper diagnosis? Chiropractors can help to diagnose and treat injuries caused by car wrecks.

The first and most important thing to do after being involved in an auto accident is to check yourself for injury. People often come to the conclusion that they have one of two options after checking themselves for injury after a car accident:

1.     That they have not sustained any injury and do not need any remote medical attention or

2.     That they need medical attention and must go to an emergency room or make an appointment with their primary care physician immediately

Many people tend to forget that they have a third option, which is to see a chiropractor or massage therapist professional for car accident treatment. While it may be necessary and is highly encouraged to take a trip to the Emergency Room (ER) in cases where serious injury is sustained, when symptoms do not seem pressing or immediately prevalent, more moderate and less expensive courses of action can be taken to treat pain caused by car accident injuries. Chiropractors can properly diagnose car accident injuries and refer patients to an appropriate treatment through performing a chiropractic exam. Even if it does not seem like you require immediate medical attention after a car crash, the findings from these exams can uncover underlying injuries that may cause chronic medical problems. It only takes a fender bender occurring at speeds as low as 5-10 mph to cause whiplash injuries, such as micro-tears in your ligaments. The pain from these micro-tears become noticeable when they begin to swell, but this can take hours, days, or even weeks to occur, making the pain seem minor or non-existent at the time immediately following a car accident. (1)

In Tallahassee, Florida at Pragle Chiropractic and Massage Therapy, a comprehensive exam is performed with:

  • Neurological tests
  • Deep tendon reflexes
  • Muscle tests
  • Cerebellar exam (concussion or traumatic brain injury signs)
  • Orthopedic tests focused on nerve injury and muscle weakness

Depending on your symptoms as well as the exam findings, Dr. Eric will recommend individualized imaging or a treatment plan. Imaging, such as MRI’s, X-rays, and CT-scan’s, can be used to identify head and neck injuries that may not be apparent through symptoms alone. An x-ray is a fast and painless test that produces images of the structures in your body, which can rule out the possibility of bone fractures resulting from a car accident. A Computerized Tomography, or a CT-scan, produces 3-D images of the body, allowing doctors to view the body without having to perform surgery, while a Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or an MRI, creates detailed images of the body’s organs and tissues. A CT-scan or an MRI may be necessary if the chiropractor is concerned with the possibility of a patient suffering from a serious ligament or soft tissue injury, such as a herniated disc. (2) A herniated disc occurs when the gelatinous middle of a disc between vertebrae seeps out and presses on a nerve root exiting the spinal cord behind the disc. This can be caused from the force of a whiplash injury. The signs and symptoms of a herniated disc include:

Herniated Disc Signs/Symptoms: (3)

  • Muscle weakness
  • Leg pain
  • Arm or shoulder pain
  • Tingling or numbness

If you wait until these symptoms present themselves (which sometimes they don’t at all), it may be too late to receive help from your insurance, meaning you would have to pay your medical bills out of pocket. Vehicle owners with Florida car insurance are required to have a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, and while this coverage provides compensation to drivers in an accident, the benefits may only be apprehended if you receive medical treatment for injuries within fourteen days of the accident. Beyond financially, it can also be medically dangerous to hold off on treating what may seem to be mild injuries.

Many people believe that by resting or limiting movement to areas with pain, such as the neck, the pain will eventually go away on its own. Not only is it unlikely that the pain will subside, but it could actually become worse and lead to future problems. In the past, initial treatments for car accident injuries such as whiplash included wearing soft cervical collars around the neck for several weeks, the goal being to reduce the range of motion of the neck and prevent additional injuries. Recent studies have shown that this kind of prolonged immobilization slows the healing process. (4)

Excessive rest and immobilization symptoms include:

  • Greater chance of chronic symptoms
  • Loss of range of motion leading to increased pain and stiffness
  • Decreased blood flow to injuries in soft tissues
  • Healing of damaged muscles in shortened positions that render them less flexible

While electing to avoid treatment can be dangerous to your health, it can also be counterproductive to receive immediate gratification treatments with no long-term improvement. If you visit your primary care doctor, urgent care, or the emergency room after an auto accident, they are likely to prescribe you with anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, muscle relaxers or a steroid shot. While these treatments may help to temporarily alleviate pain from car accidents, they do not treat the underlying causes of whiplash, neck, or back injuries and can lead to substance dependency, abuse, and addiction. (5)

Many doctors prescribe opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine (etc.) as a first line of treatment. In fact, in the United States an estimated 210 million prescriptions for opiates were distributed in 2010 alone.

Dangers of Opioid Treatment for Car Accidents (6)

1.     Highly addictive – Opioids can cause a patient to become dependent on them well after their prescription is finished

2.     Temporary fix – Opioids only temporarily cover up the underlying causes of pain and can hinder a person from discovering more serious injuries

3.     Can lead to abuse – When a patient runs out of their opioid painkiller prescription, they may turn to buying opioids from drug dealers

4.     Heroin addiction – Because heroin offers a similar high for cheaper, prescription opioids can lead to a heroin addiction

5.     Overdose – There is a high risk for overdose when taking opioids because over time your body creates a tolerance (gets used to) to them and requires a higher quantity to get the same pain relief/high

Soft tissue injuries can take a long time to heal, so it makes sense that more than 70% of people who visited the emergency room after a car accident were still in pain six weeks after finishing their opioid painkiller prescription. (7) Because chiropractors are taught to treat neck and back pain using drug-free methods, they are specifically knowledgeable in helping car accidents relieve pain while avoiding temporary treatments that can lead to addiction. At Pragle Chiropractic and Massage Therapy, holistic treatments to treat car accident injury include:

Treatments and Therapy for Car Accident Injuries: (8)

  1. Chiropractic adjustments – Dr. Eric will you help you pinpoint the precise spinal misalignments where the source of your pain is coming from.  If you have vertebrae out of place in your spine, it pinches the nerves and can cause headaches, neck pain, back pain, muscles spasms, dizziness and other whiplash symptoms.

  2. The AO Treatment – The AO treatment involves gentle vibrations to the neck, back, and hips

  3. Massage Therapy – Medical massage therapy helps to reduce muscle spasms, release tension, and promote healing and relaxation. This allows for your neck to regain full motion

  4. Back Treatment – Gentle realignment of the pelvic bones (hips) and sacrum (tail bone) to promote the natural healing of the nerves, ligaments, and the tendons/muscles in the hip and back

  5. Other Auto Accident Therapies including cryoderm, ice, strengthening exercises, rehab exercises, spinal decompression and vibration treatments.

Along with these treatments, daily activities such as getting enough sleep are recommended in allowing your body to achieve its optimal recovery from an accident. It is important to go to bed earlier than normal (ideally around 9-10 pm) and to position your pillow in a comfortable and supportive position in order to allow your body to catch up on healing. As well, poor posture can aggravate your injuries, resulting in slowed-down recovery time. To improve posture, it helpful to get up and move around every 45 minutes if possible, and to be mindful of how you sleep or sit in your chair.