What Type of Car Accident Injuries Does a Chiropractor Treat?
In 2012 there were over 30,000 fatal injuries from car accidents in the United States, from 5.6 million car crashes.
Of these 5.6 million car accidents there were 1.6 million car accident injuries reported. This resulted in an economic burden of nearly $300 billion.
Disability, hospitalizations, and missed work all contribute to this economic burden.
Here are some of the most common injuries in Raleigh that suffered in car accidents.
Head and Neck Injuries
The whiplash of the neck is one of the most common car accident injuries. This is when an external force causes a hyperflexion and hyperextension mechanism of the neck and head causing muscle and ligament injuries in the cervical spine or neck.
Some common symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, headaches, dizziness, numbness, and tingling into the arms and hands, stiffness when turning the head, and looking up and down. In some instances, the discs in the neck may herniate.
Some common treatments for whiplash include chiropractic and physical therapy, ice, heat, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), pain medications, muscle relaxers, ultrasound therapy, electrical muscle stimulation therapy, and therapeutic stretching and exercises.
Back Injuries Are Also Very Common Car Accident Injuries
The muscles and ligaments of the back can be sprained and strained. In some instances, the lumbar discs can herniate during a car accident.
Lumbar disc herniations can cause injuries to the nerves and spinal cord of the spine. Symptoms of nerve or spinal cord injuries include sharp severe pain, numbness, tingling, and pain in the legs or feet.
If a herniated lumbar disc is suspected it’s important to obtain an MRI as soon as possible. An MRI will show the extent of the disc herniation and its effect on the surrounding nerves and the spinal cord.
- Head Injuries After a Car Accident
Head injuries can be the most significant car accident injuries one can suffer. Occupants of the vehicle involved in a car accident often strike their heads against the dashboard, steering wheel, window, head arrest, and side doors.
These forceful impacts to the head can cause a concussion or a more severe traumatic brain injury. Symptoms of a concussion include dizziness, headaches, feeling forgetful, loss of balance and coordination, and long-term memory problems.
Traumatic brain injuries can result in memory loss, loss of speech function, and loss of permanent cognitive function.
The long term effects of head injuries can be permanent, and it is critical after a car accident injury to be evaluated by a neurologist or neuropsychologist as soon as possible if you have experienced a concussion or head injury.
- Shoulder Injuries
Shoulder injuries are very common injuries experienced after a car accident. Shoulder injuries can be a sprain/ strain of the muscles and ligaments in the shoulder and shoulder girdle. In more serious cases there can be tearing of the rotator cuff, labrum, and biceps tendon in the shoulder.
These injuries typically occur from the seatbelt going over the shoulder and the grasping on forcefully to the steering wheel during the impact of the collision. Many times one will brace the arms out against seats, doors, or dashboards during the crash, causing an injury to the shoulders.
Symptoms of an injury or tear in the shoulder after an accident include pain raising the arm, pain, and restriction flexing the arm, pain sleeping on the shoulder, pain, and restricted ranges of motion while putting on shirts or clothes.
If a tear in the rotator cuff, labrum, or biceps tendon is suspected it’s important to obtain an MRI of the shoulder and include orthopedic shoulder specialist co-management in the care plan for adequate recovery.
- Chest Injuries
It is not uncommon for one to have a chest injury during a car accident. This usually happens from hitting the chest against the steering wheel or side doors during a car accident.
It is important to be evaluated for fractured ribs if you have experienced a chest injury after an accident. Fractured ribs can puncture the lungs. The most common tests to see if a rib was fractured in a car accident are a CT scan or plain film x-rays.
- Abdominal and Pelvic Injuries
Hip fractures, pelvic fractures, and abdominal injuries can be significant and are common injuries experienced in a car accident. Spleen, liver, and kidney injuries should be evaluated at the emergency room as quickly as possible to avoid any long-term consequences. CAT scans are the most commonly used diagnostics to evaluate abdominal and pelvic injuries.
- Knee, Ankle and Foot Injuries
These are common injuries after a car accident. They usually occur from having the foot planted hard down on the brake, or floorboard during a car accident. These injuries can also occur when the knee strikes the steering wheel or dashboard during an accident.
There may be swelling in the ankle or knee after the initial injury has occurred. It’s important to obtain an x-ray initially to rule out a fracture or dislocation in the knee, ankle, or foot. If the symptoms continue or don’t improve with chiropractic care, physical therapy, or rest, or a torn ligament is suspected, an MRI should be obtained to rule out torn ligaments.
Dr. Jeffrey Gerdes, D.C.