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Auto Accidents

It's fully understandable that following a Motor Vehicle Accident, you may not only be experiencing pain, but you may be dealing with insurance companies, auto repair shops and rental car agencies; and that can be stressful.

You're already experiencing enough difficulty with handling these other matters. The goal is to make treatment as efficient, painless and comfortable as possible.

When you pick the right health and wellness centre, you can relax knowing that you will have effective patient-centered care in comfortable surroundings, without having to worry about the details of your care. The best wellness centers will handle the insurance paperwork for you, book your appointments in advance, and provide regular reports on your progress to your insurance company. If necessary, reports will also be sent to your attorney.

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about auto accident injuries:

1. WHAT IF I DON'T HURT VERY MUCH OR MY CAR SUSTAINED ONLY MINOR DAMAGE?

2. WHAT IF I WAS ONLY "STIFF OR SORE" FOR A FEW DAYS, BUT NOW HAVE NO PAIN? OR, WHAT IF I HAD NO PAIN AT ALL IN THE FIRST PLACE?

3. HOW CAN I DETERMINE THE EXTENT OF MY INJURIES?

4. HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO DIAGNOSE AND TREAT MY INJURIES?

5. CAN A MEDICAL DOCTOR DIAGNOSE MY INJURIES?

6. CAN MEDICATIONS AND PILLS HELP ME GET BETTER?

7. CAN MY HEALTH BE COMPLETELY RESTORED?

8. SHOULD I SEE AN ATTORNEY BEFORE MY EVALUATION?

9. WHAT IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY WANTS ME TO SETTLE?

10. HOW MUCH TIME DO I HAVE TO REPORT AN INJURY FOLLOWING MY ACCIDENT?

11. WHAT KIND OF TREATMENT WILL I RECEIVE?

12. DOES YOUR TREATMENT HURT?

13. HOW DO I MAKE AN APPOINTMENT?

1. WHAT IF I DON'T HURT VERY MUCH OR MY CAR SUSTAINED ONLY MINOR DAMAGE?

There has been a great deal of research done over the last several years, which proves that injury, can and does occur in low impact collisions. The most common of these injuries is "whiplash". When low-speed crash tests were performed with sudden changes in vehicle speed of only 2.5 mph, 29% of occupants experienced symptoms of neck or back injury, while a sudden change in speed of 5 mph resulted in 38% of occupants being injured.

Automobile bumpers are built to the government standard of being able to withstand a 5 mph crash without damage. These standards are not related to the safety of the occupant, but are to protect and limit the damage to the bumpers, keeping the cost of repair to a minimum. Many times, vehicles can sustain an impact at 8-9 mph before there is recognizable damage. This varies by car model as each manufacturer has a different method for building bumpers.Some used cars are made more sturdy than the more newer vehicles. The point is that when the bumper (and other metal) doesn't crumple and absorb the force of the impact, more of that force is transferred directly to the occupant of the vehicle.

Whiplash injuries are often caused by rear-end collisions, and frequently by collisions from other angles. A tremendous volume of research has been conducted to determine the amount and extent of these injuries. Because these injuries are not usually life threatening, the insurance industry, your spouse/family/friends, and even many doctors really do not understand the ordeal that you are suffering through.

After your accident, you may have experienced severe or moderate pain, or no pain at all. Surprisingly, most auto injuries are hidden and seldom detected for months, or even years. Often, the initial pain subsides, only to return full-blown later. Soft tissue injuries (injuries to muscles, ligaments, and discs) caused by auto accidents can be very deceiving. Soft tissue injuries heal with scar tissue and don't always cause pain immediately, but the damage done to your spine can lead to the following problems:

  • Recurring headaches
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain in the arms or hands
  • Chronic muscle tension and spasm
  • Low back pain
  • Spinal disc degeneration
  • Painful, inflamed arthritis
  • Sore, tight, inflexible muscles
  • Decreased athletic ability
  • Greater chance of re-injury
  • Poor posture

Documented studies done by Charles Carroll, M.D., Paul McAtee, M.D., and Lee Riley, M.D., revealed that:

"The amount of damage to the automobile bears little relation to the force applied to the cervical spine (neck) of the occupants."

In other words, the damage to the passengers is not necessarily directly related to the damage of the vehicle. Studies have shown that damage can occur to a driver/passenger at vehicle collision speeds of less than 5 miles per hour (4.87 miles per hour to be exact) and the subjects tested in this study were healthy young males!

2. WHAT IF I WAS ONLY "STIFF OR SORE" FOR A FEW DAYS, BUT NOW HAVE NO PAIN? OR, WHAT IF I HAD NO PAIN AT ALL IN THE FIRST PLACE?

A delay in the onset of pain is also extremely common, and is very well documented in the scientific literature. In addition, due to joint injuries, auto accidents can cause posttraumatic osteoarthritis. For those that have been in a traumatic accident, the arthritic process often develops much more quickly (at an earlier age) than in people who have not experienced auto accident trauma.

Osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) tends to cause pain on a daily basis and is progressive. Over time, it can ruin your posture (giving you a slumped or humped back appearance), limit your pain-free range of motion, and make it difficult to participate in many enjoyable activities.

Osteoarthritis involves the discs and other tissues of your spine and leads to progressive symptoms including chronic stiffness, pain, inability to perform simple tasks comfortably, including walking, sitting, sleeping, and/or moving the joints in your arms and legs. Even simply turning your head to one side or the other can be extremely painful, or even impossible.

When you injure yourself, your body will compensate for the injured area by trying to guard it. This puts pressure on other parts of your body to help stabilize your spine and keep you upright as much as possible. This pressure is the tightening of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments opposite the injured area, which pulls the joints of the spine out of alignment and puts painful pressure on the nerves in your back and neck.

If not treated properly, this frequently causes a "domino effect" that leads to progressive musculoskeletal imbalance as well as the associated arthritic complications described above.

3. HOW CAN I DETERMINE THE EXTENT OF MY INJURIES?

To determine the extent of your injuries and prevent their painful effects have an in-depth evaluation and consultation with a chiropractor and accident and personal injury specialist. Preferably, it should be one that's specially trained in diagnosing and treating spinal problems as a result of an automobile accident and can explain how much damage your body has sustained, as well as recommend what treatment he or she feels would be necessary and for how long.

A normal evaluation includes a complete examination including orthopedic and chiropractic testing, x-rays, computerized range of motion and muscle strength tests. If necessary, nerve conduction tests and diagnostic ultrasound tests are also performed to provide the most comprehensive diagnosis available.

If necessary, other diagnostic tests such as MRI and CAT Scans are performed as needed.

4. HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO DIAGNOSE AND TREAT MY INJURIES?

Essentially, it will cost you nothing! Like any other health care service, care is covered completely under the "medical benefits" section of your automobile insurance policy. All fees for this evaluation and treatment will be sent directly to your auto insurance company (or the person-at-fault's) for payment, alleviating any direct financial burden to you.

5. CAN A MEDICAL DOCTOR DIAGNOSE MY INJURIES?

Yes, they can. However, diagnosing motor vehicle accident injuries are best left to a chiropractic physician. Chiropractors are trained to detect abnormal biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system that can lead to arthritis. Most agencies have a medical doctor on staff to insure that a more serious injury (such as a fracture) has not occurred, and to ensure that it is safe for you to engage in a program of physical/occupational therapy that will follow. If necessary, medication may be prescribed.

You should have the most comprehensive treatment available in the healthcare community in one location. In the majority of cases, a chiropractic and medical physician will both document and report your injury.

6. CAN MEDICATIONS AND PILLS HELP ME GET BETTER?

Medications may mask the pain for a few hours, but they do not aid your body's ability to heal itself, and may hinder the healing process. Medications cannot correct the soft tissue damage that is caused by auto accidents. If you are only taking pills, irritated nerves will continue to cause pain, suffering, and the problems listed earlier. Therefore, the adverse effects of your injuries will continue to plague you until you seek treatment. In certain situations we will prescribe medication; however, pain medications alone will only mask the symptoms and not treat the problem.

7. CAN MY HEALTH BE COMPLETELY RESTORED?

Fortunately, health problems caused by automobile accidents can be relieved or eliminated through a proper program of restorative chiropractic care and physical/occupational therapy. The goal is to restore your spine to its condition prior to your Motor Vehicle Accident. Many patients report that treatment has removed many of their aches and pains that they had before their injury, which their accident aggravated. Treatments can provide not only pain relief, but also long term correction. This approach minimizes the chance of spinal or nerve problems returning months or years later.

Your body, especially your head and neck, have likely suffered stress and trauma as a result of the collision. Here are some of the positive benefits to be gained from our program of restorative chiropractic care and physical/occupational therapy.

  • Prevention of arthritis
  • Relief from head and neck pain
  • Stronger, more flexible muscles
  • Increased nerve supply to all areas of your body
  • Increased athletic ability
  • Decreased chance of re-injury
  • Increased overall health

8. SHOULD I SEE AN ATTORNEY BEFORE MY EVALUATION?

Patients have important legal as well as health care needs that need to be addressed. In most cases, it is important to be evaluated by a clinic first. That way the findings from your exam will give you the information you need in order to decide if an attorney is necessary.

If you already have an attorney, the office will send detailed reports to your attorney as you are undergoing treatment to keep your legal counsel apprised of your progress. Upon completion of treatment a final narrative report is then forwarded to the patient's attorney documenting any permanent damage or functional loss.

An attorney who specializes in injury accidents is a wise choice in these circumstances. They know the law and your rights and are better equipped to communicate with aggressive or intimidating insurance representatives to help you get the care and other benefits to which you are entitled. If necessary, the office can refer you to a reputable and qualified attorney.

9. WHAT IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY WANTS ME TO SETTLE?

It's recommended that you do not settle your case before a thorough evaluation by our office. If you settle before your injury is fully diagnosed and treated, you will be responsible for any medical bills you incur in the future.

The medical centre will write detailed reports to insurance companies to assure that your claim will be effectively documented during your treatment.

10. HOW MUCH TIME DO I HAVE TO REPORT AN INJURY FOLLOWING MY ACCIDENT?

The sooner you seek treatment following your injury, the better. If you wait several months following your accident and then report an injury to the insurance company, they are much less likely to pay for your care. You have one year to report an injury to the insurance company; however, you will have much less difficulty with your claim if you seek treatment immediately, or at least within two to three months.

11. WHAT KIND OF TREATMENT WILL RECEIVE?

At most health centers, chiropractic care and physical/occupational therapy are the foundation of treatment; however, massage, ultrasound, interferential/galvanic current stimulation, traction, and rehabilitation are also used.

If your problem is lower back related, go to a centre that utilizes the DRS System, a proven effective, non-surgical low back pain treatment. The staff also includes a Medical Physician and Physical/Occupational Therapists, providing you with the most comprehensive treatment available. They also work with other health care professionals in the medical community and if we can't help you, a referral will be made.

12. DOES TREATMENT HURT?

Absolutely not. The treatments are very gentle and quite relaxing. Most patients look forward to their appointments.

13. HOW DO I MAKE AN APPOINTMENT?

For a personal evaluation and consultation, call a health center and ask to schedule an appointment. In most cases, you can be seen the same day. The sooner you receive treatment following your accident, the better your body will respond to restorative care. You will be glad you did!