Within the speed limit, you are driving in the right hand lane of the freeway. You see a car flash by on your left. The care swerves into your lane. The taillights are suddenly red. The back end of the car looms closer and closer. Your body tenses as the cars collide. What do you do now? Stay calm!
Has anyone been injured? Unless danger exists such as explosion or fire, don’t move any of the injured people. Wait for experienced help to arrive. You may need to call 911. By taking First Aid and CPR courses, you can be better prepared to assist in an emergency.
If a major auto accident occurs, the injured will probably be taken to an emergency room. Emergency room treatment typically focuses on the care of open wounds, internal injuries and broken bones. After being released from an emergency room, or if no medical care was administered, you should also be checked for “soft tissue” injures.
The soft tissues include muscles and ligaments, which hold together the structure of your body. Even braking quickly, or an unexpected drive over a curb or into a pothole can cause sprain and strain to soft tissues. Injured soft tissues cannot properly support the rest of the body frame.
Usually your neck and upper back are influenced most by the force of the accident. The seat belt harnesses the torso. The neck and head are left free and usually bend toward the direction of impact. As the neck is bent, the soft tissues, muscles and ligaments, on the opposite side of the neck, can overstretch, rip and tear. As your car comes to a halt, the torn muscle spasms in reflex. The muscles tighten and shorten, pulling the head in the opposite direction.
Similar injury occurs to the soft tissue on the other side of the neck as it too becomes overstretched. These injuries can occur to the mid and low back as well as to the side of the neck. If your body sustains enough impact, the discs between the joints of the spine along with the associated nerves can become injured also.
Immediately after an accident, you may be in shock and may not feel the pain from soft tissue injury. Later that evening or even beginning several days later, you may notice muscle soreness and stiffness. Loss of appetite, depression, irritability, and headaches can accompany your discomfort.
As soon as possible after the accident, even if you feel no pain, you need to be evaluated for soft tissue injury. This aspect of body structure injury treatment falls into the category of chiropractic. Muscle, ligaments, and their attached joints need to be restored to normal function to allow for proper healing. Gentle chiropractic treatment addressing muscle and joints can include physical therapy coupled with chiropractic techniques. Nutritional advice can suggest a supportive diet that can facilitate healing. Counseling can help with depression that may follow after a major trauma to the body.
Frequently, when no treatment for soft tissues is received, auto accident victims may develop headaches months after the original injury. Improper healing can lead to a chain of events that may cause these headaches. A variety of other health problems can occur long after an accident.
After an accident, instead of waiting until pain or health problems arise or become unbearable, seek proper evaluation immediately. Call your doctor of chiropractic. You may not need treatment. But, if you do, immediate treatment before swelling escalates, will allow faster healing.
After the examination, you should gain a peace of mind by knowing more about your injury and the required treatment to help you recover as soon as possible.