Each year thousands of Americans are involved in car crashes and other accidents that result in long-term back and neck pain. Even small ‘fender-bender’ type accidents can cause injuries. Being involved in an accident can be overwhelming and stressful. People often don’t know what to do first. Here is your guide on what to do after you’ve been injured in an accident.
Get Checked Out
It should go without saying that you should go straight to a hospital after an accident if you have any signs of serious injury. Even if you aren’t in pain and don’t have any obvious injuries, it’s always a good idea to have your healthcare provider take a look at you if you’ve been in an accident. Many injuries are not immediately obvious and can take days or weeks to start causing problems. It is common for accident victims to not feel back or neck pain until a few days after the accident. The damage may show up on an x-ray, CT or MRI even before you feel pain. Catching injuries early can lead to better treatment outcomes. Timely reporting of injuries will also make the insurance claims process a bit smoother.
Sometimes, patients receive a clean bill of health from their doctor or the hospital, but they are still experiencing pain and stiffness. This is a sign that you need to see a chiropractor. Chiropractors have training and experience in identifying the hard-to-see types of injuries that can happen in an accident. They can perform orthopedic and neurologic tests to look for muscle, tendon, and nerve damage that your primary care doctor might miss. Pain isn’t something you should learn to live with; it’s a sign that something is still wrong.
Whiplash, herniated spinal discs, and subluxations are some of the most common accident-related injuries. Tell your chiropractor if you’ve experienced back or neck pain, headaches, blurred vision, or dizziness. Some injuries can resolve within a few days with rest and simple at-home treatments like hot and cold therapy. Other injuries may need to be treated for several weeks or months.
Don’t Wait on Insurance to Start Getting Treatment
After you’ve been diagnosed with an injury, get treatment right away. In most cases, insurance companies will reimburse you for medical expenses associated with your accident. The sooner you get treatment, the better your chances of full recovery will be.
Whiplash injuries require weeks of exercises and chiropractic adjustments to realign the traumatized spine and heal soft tissue injuries. Disc-related problems can be effectively treated with spinal decompression therapy, but again, this treatment takes time to complete. Prompt onset of treatment will help you get back to pain-free life quickly.
Consider Legal Counsel
Accident attorneys only get paid when you do. You won’t owe them anything upfront. Consulting an attorney can help you get the money you need to pay for car repairs, medical expenses, and missed workdays. Our chiropractors can give you a personalized treatment plan that can help your legal counsel predict the expenses the insurance company will need to cover. Knowing upfront that you have someone working on your behalf can help you focus on healing.
Complete the Full Course of Prescribed Treatment
Healing is a marathon, not a sprint. Chiropractors aim to help your body achieve full recovery instead of relying on prescription pain medications or other “band-aids” for your symptoms. In order to heal up completely, you’ll need to follow through with the course of treatment your chiropractor has recommended. Some injuries may only require a few sessions at your chiropractor’s office, while others may require several weeks. For more serious injuries, chiropractors often start out seeing the patient a few times a week and then gradually decrease the treatment frequency to once a week, then once a month, etc.
Your chiropractor will continue to evaluate your progress throughout treatment, and recommend future treatments accordingly. The goal is to achieve complete recovery. Many people do achieve this and don’t need to see their chiropractor on a regular basis afterward. Sometimes complete recovery is not possible, and maintenance visits are recommended to keep the condition under control. Some people choose to see their chiropractor regularly after their injury heals as a part of their regular wellness care.
Don’t Skip Your At-Home Treatments
Your chiropractor will probably prescribe exercises, stretches, and other therapies for you to do at home between your in-office treatments. It’s important to do these activities as prescribed, so you stay on track with your healing. Whiplash injuries, especially, require daily care to heal quickly. Skipping out on your at-home treatments can slow your healing and cause you to experience more discomfort during the healing process. If you are having trouble performing a particular stretch or exercise, talk to your provider. He or she can help you get it right or suggest an alternate activity.
Don’t Over-Do It
Sometimes the hardest part of recovering from an injury is not being able to do the things you are used to doing. It can be tempting to hit your workout again or carry your toddler on your shoulders but going back to your usual activities too soon could lead to further injury and slower recovery. If you have a back injury, you should ask your chiropractor how many pounds you can lift safely and how to lift it safely, then stick to that.
With a whiplash injury, you’ll need to avoid roller coasters and anything else that could strain your neck. If there’s an activity you are dying to get back to, talk to your chiropractor about it. They can let you know how far out you are from being able to return to it safely. They might also be able to suggest modifications that can help you get back to some activities sooner.
Our chiropractors in Kentucky have extensive experience treating patients who’ve been injured in accidents. Call today to find out how we can help you get back on your feet.