Is there anything worse than a car accident? A car accident doesn’t just ruin your day—it can feel like it’s ruined your life. From the moment of impact, a car accident causes a lot of stress. In addition to sorting out insurance, fault, repairs, and the inconvenience of it all, there’s something even more pressing that can be an insidious interrupter of daily life: injury. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you’re probably wondering “can chiropractic care help with my car accident injury?” It’s a natural question to ask, especially if you’ve sought or received traditional medical care, or other modalities of care, without experiencing long-lasting relief. If you’re interested in discovering how chiropractic care can help after a car accident injury, read on.
The Stages of a Car Accident: During, Immediately After, and Long-Term Effects
There are three major stages of a car accident. First, there’s during—this is what occurs during the moment of impact, and sets the stage for injury and recovery. Then, there’s immediately after. These minutes, hours, and days are critical to affecting how the body heals and responds to any sustained injuries. Finally, there are the long-term effects of a car accident. This stage lasts the rest of your life following a collision, and for some, they can feel the effects of the accident for the entirety of this time.
What happens during a car accident?
If you’re reading this article, then you’re likely not in the midst of a car accident—which is good! But there’s a high chance that you’ve experienced an auto accident before. During a car accident, the vehicle is struck or strikes another object. This can be another car, a stationary object, or something else entirely—a wall, a body of water, a deer, etc. In the moment that the car strikes or is stricken by another object, the impact of the collision ripples through the entire car and through the bodies of those in the vehicle.
Cars are supposed to be designed to absorb as much of the impact of an accident as possible, but this “absorptive quality” is rarely enough to alleviate injury from the passengers. You often see cars crumple in collisions, and with good reason—the crumpling effect is intended to direct the shock of the impact to the car, not to your body!
Nevertheless, your body will likely feel the effect of the collision. In fact, some evidence suggests that the less damaged your car is, the more likely it is that your body absorbed the shock of the impact!
While a car is designed to crumple to absorb shock, your body’s structure is not. Your body needs the space between every joint to provide cushioning for your bones. The discs between joints are more often than not damaged in a car accident, even a minor one. Here are some of the most common types of injuries during a car accident:
The moment you hear the term “whiplash,” you might immediately think of a car accident—and you’re right! Whiplash is one of the most common injuries to result from a car accident and other sudden-impact injuries.
Whiplash occurs when the head is wrung forward and backward on the neck by sheer force, throttling the neck muscles and joints. The result of this is frequently lasting pain in the neck, numbness/tingling in the arms, wrists, and hands, headaches, migraines, brain fog, and muscle disorders around the neck and back.
Whiplash, if not treated, can cause injuries that flare up under stress, never completely healing. This is because the joints of the neck are often misaligned during whiplash, and the result of misalignment in the neck can be all kinds of discomfort, pain, and dysfunction.
Back pain is a common result of injury during a car accident. This is because the impact of a car accident can cause the bones and joints of the spine to slip out of alignment due to impact. When the bones and joints slip out of alignment in the spine, this leads to a host of problems.
First, misalignment in the spine can cause pain. The pain is typically caused by nerves that have become inflamed, compressed, and in some severe cases, severed. How do nerves become damaged from a car accident? When the impact moves the spine out of alignment, it can crush and inflame nearby nerves that wouldn’t usually be touched by the bones and joints.
Neck pain is another common result of car accident-related injuries. They can be caused by whiplash, which is the throttling of the neck forward and backward or side to side during impact, or they can be caused by the effect of the collision on the body’s structure. When the body absorbs impact from a collision, the strike can frequently crush or compress the soft and spongy discs in the spine. The cervical spine, which is located in the region of the neck, can suffer as a result of this.
In some car accidents, the knees can absorb a significant amount of impact. This is because, depending on the type of collision and the placement and location of your knees, you might find that they are forced to rotate or twist during the accident. This can result in all kinds of injuries and residual pain, leaving your knees never feeling “quite right.”
Headaches & Migraines
Have you suffered from headaches and migraines following a car accident? Oftentimes, we’re so concerned with dealing with the logistical issues of a car accident (insurance, car repair, alternate transportation, financial woes, etc.) that we don’t have time to investigate or even notice residues injuries that were not obvious open wounds, or were not immediately debilitating. The most common injury that people overlook after car accidents are headaches and migraines, which can persist for weeks, months, and years after the accident.
What makes headaches and migraines start happening after a car accident? The first cause is stress. While scientists aren’t exactly sure what causes migraines, stress is known to be a major contributing factor. Car accidents are incredibly stressful events, and they can leave a ripple of lingering stress in their wake that continues to contribute to headaches and migraines.
Other causes and contributing factors to headaches and migraines include spinal misalignment and inflammation, both of which can happen as a result of a car accident. Whiplash, a subluxation (when the joints slide out of place in the spine), and other injuries that are invisible to the naked eye can leave the lingering effect of migraines and headaches. Some people never connect migraines and headaches to the car accidents that they suffered 5, 10, or even 15 years ago.
Have you ever wondered where your sciatic pain started? The answer can be found in the past—with a car accident. Sciatica is the feeling of a sharp, shooting pain from the buttocks to the back of one or both legs. This pain can be so severe that when it occurs, it can almost feel like your leg or legs are being taken out from underneath you. Sciatica can be miserable to live with, and it doesn’t always respond to painkillers, stretching, or other frequently prescribed forms of care.
Sciatica is caused and or exacerbated by misalignment of the joints in the low back, and misalignment of joints in the low back can be caused by—you guessed it—car accidents! When the impact of another vehicle or object slams against your body, the body often tries to absorb it in the bones and joints. Unfortunately, the bones and joints aren’t built to sustain this type of impact, and as a result, they typically move out of proper alignment.
The movement of the joints out of proper alignment can become a nightmare for the nervous system, as the nerves that are tightly wound around the spinal cord are interrupted when the joints move. This can create nerve interference, inflammation, and most commonly, pain. The pain of sciatica can be debilitating and can flare up unexpectedly (even after inactive periods of simply laying down).
What happens immediately after a car accident?
Immediately after a car accident, if injuries are not severe enough for hospitalization, they are usually not addressed. However, this is a critical time to address any injuries that may occur. If you find yourself in a minor car accident (or severe accident in which you’re not hospitalized), the first thing to do immediately after sorting out legal and financial logistics is to seek care.
Receiving care is imperative to ensure that there are no “hidden injuries” taking place. Some injuries, particularly head injuries, can occur during an accident and should be immediately addressed. If you have any doubts, seek comprehensive medical care.
If you discover that you don’t have any life-threatening injuries, it’s time to look at care for your neuromusculoskeletal system. This is the part of the body that is typically most affected by car accidents, and it’s the part of the body that chiropractic care specializes in.
Chiropractic Care After A Car Accident
Seeking chiropractic care after a car accident is one of the best things that you can do for your body! It will allow your neuromusculoskeletal system to receive complete and comprehensive treatment. Your neuromusculoskeletal system is made up of your joints, muscles, and nerves. Each of these parts of your body plays a huge role in how well your body functions. If you want to help support your body’s healing process after a car accident, in which the joints, muscles, and nerves are typically injured, seek expert chiropractic care today.
At Advanced Spine and Posture of Lansing, Michigan, Drs. Monica and Ryan Wohlfert will provide a complete assessment to determine how you can recover after a car accident injury. With a fully customized care plan, you can get started on your journey to wellness, and get back to your life without pain! Contact us today to book your first appointment.