I’ve heard it said many times that people who have been in a car crash only say they have been hurt so they have a case to get money. I can tell you from handling over 10,000 motor vehicle accident cases in 24 years that people do get hurt as a result of these accidents.
I’ve found in my practice that many clients suffer very specific injuries to specific parts of their bodies. To support subjective complaints of pain, most crash victims undergo various diagnostic studies designed to elucidate the existence of structural tissue damage as a result of a crash. This include x-rays, MRIs, EMGs and CT scans.
The results of these tests are remarkably similar in many cases. For instance, when clients complain of neck pain, MRIs often show herniated discs and other disrupted tissue at the level of C3-4 and C4-5. The same is true for clients who complain of back pain, where MRIs often show herniated discs at L4-5 and L5-S1. These are the most frequent injuries because of the seat’s design and the use of a shoulder and lap belt combination.
In a collision, the body is lurched forward until the seatbelt stops you, at which point your body is then thrust backwards into the seat. The head whips forward then backwards, causing whiplash. Due to the height of the seat and headrest, and because the shoulder harness doesn’t prevent movement of the head, the rapid flexion of the neck seems to cause injury in the same location across patients.
Additionally, as the hips are jolted forward, the lap belt holds you in place until the seat catches up to you, causing a traumatic impact with your low back and injury to your spine.
Crash victims often seek the care of spine specialists in the form of chiropractic, orthopedic or neurosurgical disciplines. An intense course of chiropractic manipulation, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy can reduce the pain and loss of function caused by the crash. However, depending on your pre-existing physical condition, the size of the vehicle you’re riding in, the forces generated in the crash and a host of other factors, the injuries could be significant enough to require surgery.
After a course of chiropractic care and physical rehabilitation, a physician may recommend a series of injections that include anti-inflammatory medication that can be injected precisely at the injury point to reduce pain and swelling. If these therapies fail to relieve the pain sufficient enough for the patient to return to their pre-injury lifestyle, surgery may be warranted. In that case, specialists utilize various techniques and innovations to perform invasive surgery causing the least amount of tissue disruption, with the most common being fusions.
If you’re injured in a motor vehicle crash, it’s imperative that you see a physician or present to a walk-in clinic within 14 days. Otherwise, you will forfeit $10,000 in benefits designed to pay your medical bills.