What You Should Know About Recovering from Auto Injuries

auto injuries

America’s roads have become far safer over the past three decades.  By just about any measure, travelers are much less likely to be injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident than they were in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And this is true even though we’re driving more miles each year!

However, automobile accidents are still notoriously hard on the musculoskeletal system, and there is still a very real risk of back and neck injuries—even when drivers and passengers are protected by the latest safety equipment.  In fact, recent research suggests that some types of injuries—particularly to the thoracic and lumbar regions of the back—may actually be more likely when safety belts are used. There is also some evidence that airbags may contribute to more severe neck injuries when they deploy.

At the same time, other developments are also changing the nature of auto injuries.  For instance:

  • Smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles are good for the environment, but they pose additional risks to their passengers when they collide with larger cars, SUVs, and trucks.
  • Lifestyle and demographic trends are resulting in greater numbers of overweight and obese people on the roads as well as larger numbers of seniors, who tend to have frames that are smaller and more fragile.

So even though the overall fatality rate and the rate of serious injuries should continue to fall as safety systems continue to improve, minor to moderate injuries from auto accidents will continue to be a fact of life for the foreseeable future.

What You Need to Know

Even in cases where drivers and passengers walk away from a wreck believing they’re “uninjured”, accidents can have profound, long-lasting health consequences for those involved.  It’s not uncommon for some types of symptoms to appear only gradually days or weeks after the event itself, delaying effective diagnosis and treatment. Symptoms may also come and go intermittently, making it more difficult to associate them with the accident.         

Fortunately, there are things you can do to safeguard your health and improve your chances of a more rapid, complete recovery following an auto accident.  Clinical studies have demonstrated that chiropractic care can shorten recovery time and decrease the amount of permanent physical damage sustained in a collision.

  1. Take care of first things first.  Always address any life-threatening injuries first.  If you experience (or have reason to suspect) significant bleeding or bruising, broken bones, internal pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, or shock, you should seek immediate help from healthcare professionals who specialize in treating trauma injuries.
  2. Visit your chiropractor as soon as possible after an accident. Do this even if you don't think you've been hurt very badly.  Research has shown that early intervention in the form of chiropractic adjustment, massage, laser therapy and supervised exercise and stretching programs can make a big difference in longer-term function.
  3. Stay as active as you can throughout your recovery.  The activity encourages blood flow to the injured area and promotes healing.  It also helps prevent or reduce scar tissue formation and maintain range of motion.
  4. Strengthen the affected area(s) as directed.  Exercise and stretching programs are designed to help prevent future injuries and are an important part of a balanced treatment plan.
  5. Recognize that you may be at increased risk of developing chronic problems.  Be sure to tell your doctor if any of the following warning signs apply:
    • A prior history of back, neck or shoulder problems (including previous injury).
    • Distinct numbness, tingling or pain immediately following an accident.
    • Increased muscle tension or reduced range of motion after the crash.
    • You were involved in a rear-end collision.
    • Your head was turned at the moment of impact.
    • You have symptoms that don’t resolve or that become generalized.
  1. Do your best to avoid becoming frustrated with the pace of recovery.  Setbacks are common and it is not unusual for some symptoms to come and go.

An auto accident can affect your health (and your lifestyle) for years if you don’t receive the proper treatment.  So if you or someone you care about has been injured in a collision, please call our office and make an appointment today.

Chiropractic care can help put your recovery in high gear!