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Every year, more than 2 million people are injured in car accidents across the U.S. Yet only a fraction of those people visit their doctor for an evaluation and exam following their crash. Why? Because all too often, people believe if they can't see or feel any "major" injuries, they don't need to be medically evaluated. Unfortunately, not seeing a doctor after a car accident means they could be at risk of much more serious problems later on.
The problem with nerve injuries
When we think of auto accident injuries, we tend to think of injuries to bones, muscles and connective tissues, like ligaments and tendons, or bruising and cuts. Those are all injuries that need medical attention following an accident, and because they’re visible and apparent, the care you need will also be pretty obvious.
But the fact is, auto accidents can and often do cause other problems that might not be as readily apparent — problems that might not show up for hours, days or even longer. These are problems that affect the nerves, and often, they won’t cause noticeable symptoms until later. Even when you do notice early symptoms, the pain and other signs you feel may not reach their peak for several days.
Of all the nerve-related injuries that develop after an accident, whiplash is probably the most well known. Whiplash is an injury to the nerves in your neck (your cervical spine) or back. The injury occurs when your head and neck receive a sudden jolt — sometimes, it can be as dramatic as having your head snap back and forth like a whip, and sometimes the jolt can be much more subtle.
The rapid back-and-forth movement causes nerves to become stretched or compressed (“pinched”), usually where they exit your spine. When a nerve is injured near the spinal canal, you can have symptoms anywhere along the nerve path — from your back all the way down your arms and legs. Symptoms can range from a dull aching to sharp pain or bursts of electricity-like shocks.
Often, symptoms of whiplash don’t become apparent until days or even weeks after an accident. Having an early evaluation can help diagnose whiplash even before painful symptoms become serious.
Concussions are another type of injury associated with car crashes — one that can have potentially deadly consequences. In a concussive injury, the impact causes your brain to bump against the inside of the skull, causing bleeding in or around the brain. When the bleeding is rapid, you can go into shock fairly quickly. But when bleeding is slow, you may not notice symptoms until later. Delaying treatment can be life-threatening, which is another important reason for having a medical evaluation after an accident.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, you don’t have to have a major impact to have a concussion. Concussions can occur following minor accidents as well. Being medically evaluated after any type of accident is one of the smartest things you can do for your health and your future.
Another good reason to be medically evaluated after a car accident: It can help with insurance claims. Not only will an insurance company require proof of injury before it pays for any care you might need, but having an evaluation right away means you can make sure you receive all the treatment you need so you feel better. When you delay your evaluation, it can be harder to prove your symptoms are caused by the car accident — and that means the insurance claims process can be a real hassle. You might not even be able to receive all the benefits and compensation you deserve.
Don't delay your care.
Delaying care after an auto accident means you can wind up with serious long-term injuries that may not be readily apparent right after an accident. Just because you think you "feel fine," that doesn't mean you don't have injuries waiting to cause problems. If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, having a comprehensive chiropractic exam is one of the smartest steps you can take to protect your health — and it’s also an important part of the insurance claim process. To schedule your evaluation and to find out about treatments that can help you feel better, contact Pinnacle Health Chiropractic or book an appointment online today.
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