Absolutely, yes! Auto collisions are an incredibly common event. In fact, statistics indicate that it’s not a question of “if you’ll be in a car wreck,” it’s really a matter of “when you’ll be in a car wreck.” Car wrecks not only result in a very bad day and property damage, but injuries sustained can also cause a variety of health-related concerns for all those involved in the collision. Typically, after a car accident, the driver or passenger(s) will complain of symptoms such as neck and back stiffness; difficulty looking up, down, or side to side; or headaches, visual disturbances, or numbness and tingling to the extremities. These symptoms indicate that the soft tissues around the spine – like muscles, discs, and ligaments, as well as the joints of the spine – have been damaged, causing misalignments in the vertebrae.
The body will undergo stages of healing, which include swelling, spasm and muscle guarding, and symptoms will vary person-to-person. Some express mild discomfort, and some experience debilitating discomfort. In either case, bumper damage doesn’t correlate directly to the damage to the spine, but the amount of g-forces applied to the body inside of the car is of greatest concern, causing a sudden “whipping” of the head and neck, commonly called “whiplash.”
The most important fact is that research indicates it is important that injuries sustained in auto accidents must be rehabilitated. It has been shown that regardless of whether the pain sensation was mild or severe, X-rays may show disc degeneration already advancing in as little as three months due to a lack of proper motion and spinal function. This lack of function is also linked to a loss of proper spinal curvature.
A study in the American Journal of Geriatrics indicates that this decrease in proper curvature as it relates to the neck and upper back correlates to a 14- to 15-year decrease in life expectancy. In numerous cases, increases in neurological deficit and spinal problems caused by these injuries have been reported up to eight years after the accident occurred.
It is critical to be examined by a Chiropractor as soon as possible following an accident. A chiropractor will seek to restore proper motion to the spine, assist in allowing the body to achieve proper motion and alignment, and allow the body to heal quickly and properly, thereby avoiding potential problems that may linger in the future.
Dr. Justin Ashlock
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