One of the most common injuries sustained in auto accidents is a back injury. Spinal cord injuries can cause significant nerve damage. You may experience reduced sensation of and control over your arms, hands, legs, feet, and other body parts. More serious forms of spinal damage can leave you permanently paralyzed. Another common injury from an auto accident is a herniated disk. This tends to be less severe than spinal damage but can still cause significant problems. If you have a herniated disk, you may experience numb or tingling sensations, muscle weakness, and arm or leg pain. Whiplash is another accident-induced injury that can impact the neck and back.
- Spinal Cord Injury: The spinal cord is made up of a bundle of nerves that run down the center of your back. The cord serves to carry signals back and forth between your body and your brain. Spinal cord injuries are categorized as being complete or incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury means that the signals cannot be sent from the brain to the body and as a result, paralysis sets in. An incomplete spinal cord injury means some movement and sensation exists and rehabilitation is possible.
- Herniated Disk: A spinal disk is a rubbery cushion that sits between the individual bones of the vertebrae. However, significant trauma, like an auto accident, can cause the discs to push through the exterior, or herniate. The herniated disk can cause pain to nearby nerves, resulting in weakness in your arms or legs.
- Whiplash: Whiplash refers to an injury that occurs when your head suddenly jerks forwards and backward. Muscles and tendons in your neck become stretched or torn which can cause a lack of motion in your neck.
Diagnosing a Neck or Back Injury After an Auto Accident
- CT SCAN: A computer tomography scan, also known as a CT scan, provides an intensive look at the bones and disks in your back. The scan can spot abnormalities that an X-ray may not see.
- X-RAY: One of the most common methods of diagnosing a broken bone is an X-ray. During an X-ray, beams of radiation pass through your body and are absorbed in different amounts depending on the density of the material they pass through. Bone, due to its density, will appear as white on an X-ray, allowing medical professionals to view and diagnose fractures. X-rays can show spinal column injuries like tumors or fractures.
- MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging, also known as an MRI, uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate computer image. The images can show damage to your spinal cord and disks.
Chiropractic Care for Neck and Back Injuries
Chiropractors treat neck and back injuries by using their hands or a small instrument to apply a controlled but sudden force to a joint of the neck or spine. The purpose of the sudden force is to correct the structural alignment.
Risks of chiropractic care include:
The worsening of a herniated diskCompression of nervesStroke after manipulation of the neck
Chiropractic adjustments are not like a surgery where a fix can be made in one procedure. Instead, chiropractic care helps to make small improvements over several visits. The severity and type of injury will determine how frequently you can undergo treatment.
After reviewing your X-rays and any other testing that you may have been through, the chiropractor will structure your plan of treatment. During the actual adjustment, you will likely be asked to lay down on a massage table with your back facing the chiropractor. The chiropractor will explain to you what they are about to do and may ask you to breathe out as they apply the sudden pressure. You may hear and feel cracks and pops as the force is applied. You may feel better almost immediately or the results may take a few days to set in. It is recommended that you keep fully hydrated after undergoing an adjustment to avoid fatigue and headaches.
In addition to applying pressure, chiropractors have been known to incorporate nutritional counseling and exercise rehabilitation into the treatment plan. Because the goals of chiropractic care include the restoration of function and prevention of injury in addition to neck and/or back pain relief, chiropractic care involves creating a healthy environment that will restore you back to health as quickly as possible.
Chiropractic care has received mixed reviews from physicians and surgeons. Those that look down upon the adjustments feel that there are better, more westernized methods to restore a person’s neck and/or back health (surgery/medication). However, studies have shown that it does help people feel better. The European Spine Journal published the findings from a clinical trial which showed that chiropractic adjustments resulted in a 72% success rate in treating sciatica and related symptoms. In a study by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to test the effectiveness of different approaches for treating mechanical neck pain, 272 people were divided into three groups that received either spinal manipulative therapy from a chiropractor, pain medication or exercise recommendations. The study lasted 12 weeks and at its conclusion, 57% of the people that were treated by the chiropractor reported feeling better and in less pain. That number, when compared to the 33% in the medication group, is staggering.
Compensation After an Accident
If you have suffered a neck or back injury as a result of an auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical treatment, including your chiropractic care. By pursuing a personal injury claim, you can seek damages not only for direct medical expenses (things such as hospitalization, doctor visits, and physical therapy/ongoing treatment costs) but also ancillary expenses as well as lost wages for periods of time you were unable to work due to your injuries and/or subsequent treatment.
At the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal, we understand how frustrating and painful neck and back injuries can be and appreciate the significant physical and financial difficulties that can result. To begin the process of obtaining compensation for your injuries and the associated costs, contact our accident attorneys at 303.825.2223.