We get questions from our ‘tribe’ on various health related topics. In this blog series we answer them as best we can, from our experience as a chiropractic office that is on the cutting edge of natural health.
Today: How soon following a car accident should I get my spine checked?
Great question! Following an accident, there are a lot of things on your mind. The experience can be traumatic, not just physically, but emotionally as well. Life changes in an instant, and yours just did.
The first thing to consider is the potential of life-threatening injuries. The EMTs on the scene will help you evaluate this, and you should follow their recommendations carefully. If they recommend you go to the hospital for further evaluation – do it!
Once you are cleared from the possibility of acute danger, (bleeding, broken bones, concussion, internal damage, etc.) you will still have a host of issues to sort through. Is your transportation intact, or do you have to do repairs, or even replace your vehicle? Legal issues can range from dealing with a traffic ticket to hiring a legal resource to support you in the case of liability. Insurance ramifications can involve minor inconveniences like a copay on your repair bill to raised insurance premiums, or even finding it necessary to replace your insurance coverage.
And then come the aches and pains that you may experience following such a trauma. It is amazing how much energy travels through your body – in even a mild car accident. Even if you don’t strike your head or limbs on a hard object, even if there is no obvious injury such as bleeding, bruising, or fractures, that energy has to go somewhere, and portions of it will have a detrimental effect on your internal soft tissues. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support your joints may be stretched or torn.
The neck is particularly susceptible to these injuries, but any portion of the spine, as well as shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees may be stretched to the point of sprain or strain in a motor vehicle accident. This can be painful, and over time, a traumatized joint is much more likely to develop degenerative changes such as arthritis.
So, when should you get your spine checked following an accident? I recommend you do it as soon as you have ruled out life-threatening issues. The sooner you uncover and treat these spinal injuries, the sooner you can get to work on restoring alignment and soft tissue support.
The longer you leave spinal damage, even if the pain and discomfort dissipate, the more likely you are to develop degeneration and arthritis in the affected joints.
Get your transportation issues fixed, and call your chiropractor to get chiropractic care within days of being cleared by the emergency responding medical team.