What Happens If I’m in a Motor Vehicle Accident- Part 1

It can happen…  You’re sitting at a red light and suddenly the car behind you rear-ends your vehicle.  Or you’re on the highway and a car cuts you off and brakes suddenly, and you’re not able to brake in time.  Or you’re driving on a back country road and the driver coming from the other direction veers into your lane putting you in a ditch to avoid a head-on collision.  It happens.  But you don’t have to suffer for it!

Dr. Amanda was recently in a car accident- and thankfully walked away with the primary damage endured by the car.  However, the physical response to injury was impactful on daily life.  And dealing with the insurance company brought light to the challenge it can be to navigate coverage, benefits, and how it applies to you and your situation.

In an effort to help others, we’re putting together a two-part series of articles to provide insight and advice when you’ve been involved with a motor vehicle accident.  This article will discuss the physical effects that can happen after being in an accident.  Next month’s article will discuss the ins and outs of getting your insurance questions answered.

It happened.

The car accident you weren’t expecting.  Your immediate reaction is to assess the physical condition of yourself, the people in the car, and the car itself.   Adrenaline is pumping causing your senses to be heightened and pain to be suppressed.  If you are severely or critically injured, you’ll be taken by ambulance to the ER.  If you’re injuries are considered “minior,” you’ll most likely be sent home and told to follow up with your physician should any concerns arise.  And now your head is spinning while you’re calling the insurance company. And you’re starting to feel a discomfort… or maybe it’s just the stress?

No matter how small the impact, a motor vehicle accident results in physical injuries to the body.  In serious collisions, life-threatening injuries may be present and addressed at the ER.  However, non-life threatening and non-visible injuries may not be addressed in an emergency situation.  Sometimes the symptoms don’t arise at the initial examination.  Or even until years later!  The delayed manifestation of symptoms is related to the phases of healing… and why it is very important to receive appropriate treatment after an enduring an accident.

The 3 Phases of Healing…

The Reaction Phase occurs in the first 24-72 hours after injury.  The area of injury has a traumatic response including swelling, muscle spasm, and pain and/or guarding.  For serious injuries, these symptoms take place immediately.  Your body is warning you that “something is wrong.”  And it prevents you from further aggravating it by eliciting such symptoms.  In a less traumatic car accident, the symptoms can take up to 48-72 hours to appear.  In these cases, the symptoms are often viewed as less dramatic and are often ignored.  You should never ignore symptoms or changes your body experiences after a motor vehicle accident.  Just because the ER cleared you, does not mean you’re free and clear from all injury.

The Regeneration Phase occurs next as the body lays down new tissue in and around the injured areas.  This phase typically lasts 6-8 weeks.  Depending on the area impacted, scar tissue development can interfere with normal movement patterns.  Even the smallest of changes in proper mechanics, especially in the spine, can lead to long-term dysfunction.  It is essential to address the mechanical changes early to prevent more challenging issues in the future.

The Remodeling Phase lasts the longest, anywhere from 3 to 12 months.  And it can be the most challenging phase.  The tissue is not yet fully repaired at this time.  Reestablishing proper function takes much longer to accomplish than simple pain reduction.  Don’t be fooled by a lack of pain, healing is still taking place for up to a year, or even longer, after a motor vehicle accident.

Why it’s important to seek chiropractic care…

Whether your car accident was yesterday or a few years ago, you should… With a focus on function related to musculoskeletal health, chiropractic care is an ideal treatment option after a motor vehicle accident.  Not only can treatment be provided, chiropractors are trained to identify when referring to another healthcare provider is necessary.  Benefits of seeking chiropractic care include:

  • pain reduction
  • improved range of motion
  • minimizing scar tissue development
  • restoration of faulty mechanics
  • improved nervous system communication
  • strengthening and prevention of future injury to the affected area
  • guidance and referral when necessary

 

The take-home message…

A motor vehicle accident is traumatic to the body, no matter how big or small the impact may be.  The signs and symptoms of injury might not happen instantly.  It’s important to have a chiropractic examination to assess the body’s condition.  The consultation and examination provide insight as to the the best course of treatment.  Even if an accident occurred “a long time ago,” it is encouraged to seek chiropractic care.  The body is amazing and will adapt as long as it can.  Unfortunately, the adaptations aren’t always in the best interest of your musculoskeletal health.  We can help you move better, feel better, and live better!

 

Check out next month’s article that will discuss insurance-related questions regarding a motor vehicle accident.