Been in a Car Accident - Know the TRUTH!

 By Dr. Scott E. Rosenthal

Earth, Fire, Air and Water can rage with MIGHTY force! Our bodies have endured the fury of these four elements since the dawn of man. Now a newer force, responsible for far greater wreckage to human health, commands our unearthly respect. It all started in 1769 in France. Nicolas Joseph Cugnot built the first steam-powered automobile. This horseless carriage soon led to the World’s newest and perhaps most devastating traumatic situation… the automobile accident!

Like the zigzag cracks streaking across your windshield after the strike of a pebble, the forces generated in an auto collision accelerate through the body in a millisecond. The victims of the wreck can be left physically damaged and emotionally scarred. By understanding common myths surrounding injuries sustained in a collision, and by properly addressing the seen or hidden injuries, an accident victim can return to a healthy state of wholeness.

MYTH #1
I was hardly hit, the car shows little or no damage and I feel fine… I have no injuries.

Countless victims have been helped by chiropractic care after suffering from such issues as headaches, arm/hand problems, neck/back pain and spinal degeneration due to a recent accident or one the patient had experienced years earlier. The patients all thought that they were fine after the accident and commented on how the car was hardly damaged, if at all. At alarming rates, injuries may not be felt and signs may not be viewed with diagnostic imaging until months or years later.

Research broadsides the beliefs of MYTH #1 with the following excerpts:

  • Vehicle speed and degree of damage to the car are not reliable indicators of injury to the passenger.1
  • “Numerous injuries result from vehicular accidents even when the impacts are not very big and there is minimal damage to both vehicles.”2
  • Injury to the neck may occur after a rear-end collision at speeds as low as two miles per hour.3
  • The trauma caused by an accident, even minor accidents, initiates the process that leads to early spinal disc degeneration.4
MYTH #2
Injuries always heal within 6-12 weeks or less.

The duration of care and healing time depends on many factors. They range from head position, pre-existing health issues (such as arthritis) to the time span between the accident date and day that care, such as chiropractic, was first received. Research following whiplash patients discovered that 45% still experienced symptoms at 12 weeks and 25% were still suffering at 6 months.5 Studies suggest that maximum improvement is achieved when there is no further progression in clinical status for a period of two months.6 It’s fixed when it’s fixed… all people and all cases are unique.

MYTH #3
Once I feel good, I am fine, and I should stop receiving treatment.

Does feeling good equate to being truly healthy? Like the 60 out of 100 people who may have no symptoms one minute before a heart attack, real health is more about function than feeling. What’s the value of a good paint job if the engine is only firing on three cylinders? Before waving the checkered flag too soon, it is important to know that research has found that a second wave of symptoms in whiplash victims may occur many months after the original injury.7 Prior to crossing the finish line of care, a symptom-free patient must exhibit full functional improvement demonstrated with the use of objective tests.

MYTH #4
The emergency room let me go home… I must be fine.

The doctors and nurses in the emergency room have an incredible job to perform. They must work quickly and accurately. The ER is designed to clean-up wounds, identify and treat urgent or life-threatening conditions. If you are not in dire straights (brain injury, fractures, etc.), you are sent home in order to make room for the next patient. Following an accident, careful examination by a qualified health practitioner experienced with caring for the unique biomechanical and neurological injuries sustained by automobile accidents is essential. One should seek care promptly, even if symptoms are mild or absent. Doctors of chiropractic have extensive training and are highly qualified to help patients who have been involved in an automobile accident.

MYTH #5
I must see my family physician prior to seeing any other doctors.

Patients have commented through the years that they were told this by the insurance adjusters assigned to their cases. It is your right to go directly to the doctor of your choice (including doctors of chiropractic). The ability to see the chiropractor first is of particular importance for the patient seeking recovery, and who wishes to avoid the risks associated with surgery and opioid drugs commonly used to treat injuries.

By dispelling the myths surrounding an automobile accident, a new map may be drawn. Acute and chronic injuries may be overcome and unseen damage corrected. Respect the unnatural forces produced in a collision, regain HOPE, call the chiropractor and you too can be HAPPY and WHOLE again!

1 Teasell RW, McCain. 1992

2 Low Impact Collisions And Injury. Rene Cailliet, MD, 2006

3 Emori R. 1990

4 Jackson R. 1977

5 Radanov BP, Sturzenegger M, Stefano GD.  Medicine 1995.

6 Spine 1994

7 Bring G, Westman G. Scan J Prim Health Care 1991.

Dr. Scott Rosenthal provides quality chiropractic care to patients in Wilmington, Delaware. He also writes a monthly column in Living Well Magazine. Whether you're searching for effective pain relief or a way to boost whole body wellness, Rosenthal Chiropractic can help.

Call our office at (302) 999-0633 for an appointment today!