Understanding Auto Accidents and Chiropractic
Chiropractors are known in America as the “guys” who treat auto accidents. While that is true, have you ever wondered why that is? I would like to explain how this has come to be and dispel some common misunderstandings about chiropractors and auto accidents.
What are auto injuries?
Injuries sustained in an auto accident are most often what the legal and medical community call “soft tissue” injuries. What that means is the discs between spinal segments, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments supporting those joints along with shoulders, knees and wrists are damaged. When at impact and the body is thrust from one direction to another, violently and unexpectedly; the tissue is stretched beyond its normal range and begins to tear. Sometimes these tears are partial, which means some of the fibers may be torn or a complete rupture which means all the fibers have been torn. These tissues must be treated in a very specific way, over a very specific period of time and with repetition to ensure the torn fibers have the best chance to realign and heal with scar tissue. This scar tissue may not be as strong as the original fibers, but it is the best we can currently hope for.
Who treats auto injuries?
the medical community in general, primary medical physicians will not accept auto cases at all. Auto cases come with quite the baggage for a doctor. You cannot guarantee payment at all. It often takes several weeks to find out if the is any additional insurance coverage to pay for the care that may be needed. If you have treated for several weeks and have bills that need to be paid, only to find out they are not covered by insurance, that bill becomes the patient’s responsibility. And that can be an accounting nightmare, which they are not willing to accept. In addition, there is always the possibility of having to testify on the patient’s behalf or even wait until a case goes to trial in 2 years before you get paid at all. These are also conditions the medical community will not accept. So, who will?
Chiropractors are trained specifically to address injuries like this and how the effect the function of the spine, discs, and nerves along with the other muscle ligaments and joints injured in these accidents. Chiropractors understand the need for repetitive treatment over a period of time and are willing to testify for their patients and wait at times for complete payment. Some chiropractic clinics like 22 Health Group also take major medical insurances and walk-in and un-insured patients for wellness or family care and not only auto. If you find yourself in an “auto only” clinic, you may want to re-consider your choice. Even if its where your attorney suggested you go.
Why consider an attorney?
When involved in an accident like this, an attorney is very helpful in streamlining your case, injury recovery and of course their may be a financial compensation at the end. However, the financial side is not why I would recommend the attorney, its because they protect you from making a mistake. The commercials are true, the insurance company has a legal team to fight their claims, you should as well!
When should you seek treatment?
The law in Florida has changed in the past few years and you may have seen it on tv. For a while we saw commercial after commercial telling you that if you were involved in an auto accident, you must seek treatment within 14 days to receive all the benefits you pay for in your policy. So, before you do anything, call us and get evaluated. This will tell you whether you have enough injuries to require representation or not. It is a pretty ridiculous law but it is what is currently in place. If you do not follow the law, you will be restricted to only a small portion of your benefits and outstanding bills may come out of your settlement instead of from the policy you have been paying for. Only the insurance company wins in this scenario.
If your injuries do not require extensive treatment, we will tell you and close your file upon your direction. It’s that simple!
Once I start getting adjusted, do I have to go for the rest of my life?
This is something I have heard over the past 25 years of practice. It's actually a choice many patients choose because they learn about chiropractic and end up wanting to continue care. There are several reasons for this, primarily once you feel the difference in a freely moving, healthily maintained spine and how much it can impact your life in ways you never expected. It is the obvious choice. A spine, disc or extremity that has been injured as we described previously heals with scar tissue and as a result may not recover back to its original function. This will allow for the now healed area to function but not at its optimal state which means it will over time have issues again.
We use this analogy often, why wait for the cavity to brush your teeth? It makes no sense to wait for the problem when you know how to prevent or maintain it. These injuries if unchecked will cause problems again and if un-addressed your body may get worse, which is your body telling you to listen. You can ignore it and it the pain may go away but what does not improve is the function. Your body has the ability in certain situations to block pain if it knows its not getting fixed but that can only last so long. Once that poorly functioning joint goes on long enough, you will have one of those moments. “Doc, I just bent over to pick up a pencil and my back went out again”; that is simply because you ignored the small warnings your body tried to give you. Achy and stiff, pain when sitting too long, cannot stand at the home store for long, headaches, tingling or sciatic pain? All signs your body is having trouble dealing with something. There is no reason to accept pain as a normal until you have done everything to help it heal properly.
So again, after an accident a patient may choose to continue to treat as a supportive or maintenance plan but its not required.