One of the biggest mistakes we often see in our office is patients who are injured in a car accident and wait to seek treatment. The first 72 hours after an accident are very critical. Do yourself a favor and stop the problem before it starts.
Here are some of the suggestions we make for our patients who have been involved in car accidents.
1. REST- Even if you feel fine, stop whatever you are doing and go home to rest. After an accident your adrenaline kicks in and many people who are badly injured report feeling fine; however, it typically takes 24-72 hours for all symptoms to kick in and in some cases longer. This goes for exercise and lifting objects over five pounds. Both of these activities should not be resumed until at least one week after your accident or until you have been cleared by a doctor to resume activity.
2. HYDRATE- The first 72 hours after an accident is all about MANAGING INFLAMMATION. One of the easiest ways to do this is to drink lots of water and sugar-free, caffeine-free beverages. Also, avoid salty foods that can cause bloating.
3. ICE- Ice might not be the most comfortable option, but it helps to reduce swelling and inflammation. If you do not have an ice pack, fill a large freezer bag with ice cubes and wrap it in a towel. Apply it to your neck and shoulders for 10 minute intervals. Repeat regularly.
4. BREATHE- One of the most common injuries associated with car accidents is trauma to the ribs and lungs. Many people report feeling like the accident “knocked the breath out of them”. One of the best things you can do during this early period is to practice deep belly breathing. Try breathing all the way down into your stomach so that your belly rises and falls instead of breathing with your chest and putting additional pressure on your ribs. This helps to relax your diaphragm and to keep excess pressure off of already injured ribs and lungs.
5. CALL US- If you have injuries to your spine, it is critically important for you to seek out medical attention within the first 24 hours after your accident. Our office will assess your injuries with x-rays, concussion screenings, and head-to-toe evaluations by our experienced team of providers. We will then use lymphatic massage and ultrasound to manage increasing inflammation.
Your insurance company is probably not looking out for your best interests. Many insurance providers and accident reconstructionists will try and tell you that because there is minimal damage to your vehicle or because it was a low speed collision, that there is little to no risk to those that were involved in the accident. This information is FALSE.
Research has proven that even though damage may seem minimal, there may be larger risks and delayed symptoms to those that were involved in the accident. You should ALWAYS request a check-up to make sure there is no damage done. Accident reconstructionists cannot predict what damage is done and they cannot predict accurate healing time. That is based on your individual body and circumstances. As Dr. Farabaugh put it, “The threshold of soft tissue injury is much less than the force required to damage a bumper/vehicle.”
Remember, time is everything after a crash. We know that a car accident comes with a lot of additional stress around insurance claims, damaged automobiles, and emotional trauma. However, you have to make taking care of yourself your first priority! Call our office as soon as you get home from your accident! If you are in a critical accident and you are taken to the ER, request an additional consultation with our team. Oftentimes, the ER will not check for concussions, whiplash, or joint immobility. They are there to assess major trauma and to give you medications and treatment options so you can safely operate at home. You STILL need to follow up with a chiropractor to assess long-term damage.
If you would like more information about how our office deals with car accident patients or if you know of someone who is dealing with pain and discomfort post-accident, give our office a call. Our multi-disciplinary office is the best equipped place in Knoxville to help you recover after an injury.