Credit Where Credit is Due
For those of you who are Lighthouse Health chiropractic patients, Dr. Joe is the brains behind the digital posture screen software we use to track your progress in the office.
Why Whiplash Becomes a Long Term Injury
Car accidents are a way of life in most Canadian cities. In fact, this week we had an accident in our family. We were rear ended. It didn’t seem like a big deal but we’re taking it serious.
My goal for you at the end of this blog post, is to help you understand why you should take car accidents seriously too.
What I See That Gets Missed
The most common finding that is getting missed after most car accidents is ligament instability in the neck.
With any car impact the force that is absorbed through the neck and upper back can be quite extreme.
Even if you don’t see or feel it at the time. Even if there doesn’t seem to be a lot of damage to your car!
A proper examination after an accident should include stress x-rays.
A properly trained chiropractor will measure a stress x-ray to record any area of the spine that is sliding forward or backwards too far.
Over time this will cause early onset osteoarthritis and disc disease.
In the x-ray above the ligaments only allow the spine to move less than 1mm each direction (1mm to 1.7mm at C4/5 and 1.3 to 2.1 at C5/6) so this person is safe to adjust (and prescribe the appropriate strengthening exercises) but if there was more movement between vertebrae we would need to take a far different approach.
Could you imagine if this was not done after an accident and the person just went ahead with care?
When This Simple Test Gets Missed Your Neck May Never Heal Properly
In a research study on whiplash, Dr. Fereantelli published a case that was mis-managed and almost cost a police man his career.
Fortunately, a family friend encouraged this patient to seek help from Dr. Fereantelli and he recovered properly (and quickly).
I’ve seen several cases in my career where ligament instability was missed, and years later the patient was still suffering with neck pain, headaches and chronic shoulder and arm pain.
This doesn’t need to happen but it does take a chiropractor who will take the time to accurately diagnosis the problem and come up with a game plan that works.
Once An Accurate Diagnosis is Discovered
Once we know what needs to be done to help you recover from your accident, we also need to factor in what might interfere with your complete recovery.
Just because we find damage from your fender bender in your spine, it doesn’t include how your spine looked before your accident.
The Guessing Game
Pre-accident condition is a difficult target. Your insurance adjuster will press you (and your medical team) to deliver an exact date of recovery, but it’s not that simple.
If your chiropractor, physiotherapist, massage therapist or lawyer doesn’t know the research, then you can be at risk of being taken advantage of.
If that happens you could find yourself in pain 2 years later with a closed case and a pile of medical expenses.
Know the Research
In a research study in 2002, 100 people still suffering from whiplash 3 months after their accident were compared to the normal population.
These patients were measured with an MRI; the gold standard for spinal and neurological diagnosis.
98% of the whiplash patients had lost their proper neck curve, compared to 2% in the normal population. 28% of the accident patients had visible disc injuries, compared to 2% of the normal population.
If your medical team doesn’t know what “normal” is before you had your accident, how can they communicate to your lawyer or insurance adjuster what came from the accident and what was there before?
Another important research paper is a 2001 study where researchers documented on x-ray that 44-46% of whiplash patients also suffer with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome.
Thoracic outlet syndrome can manifest as numbness or tingling in your arm or fingers, pain or aches in your neck, shoulder or hand and weakening grip. In more advanced cases you can even see muscle wasting in the muscles of the thumb on the affected side.
If we don’t know this kind of research exists, then conditions caused from your accident are assigned to your “pre-accident condition”.
Your medical team needs to know the research.
How Do We Manage Your Case Successfully?
Start with an accurate diagnosis.
From there we need to determine the best plan of attack for your recovery.
You will be responsible for some very specific home based and in office exercises, stretches and blocking exercises. All your recommendations are based on your x-rays, posture and results from several other tests we perform on day one.
The majority of our car accident cases will also include a referral to an equally talented physiotherapist or kinesiologist.
We also work with massage therapists and any other discipline that will help you recover better and faster.
Ethical lawyers love us because we provide accurate and timely reports that help them understand your condition.
The more information your legal team has, the better they can represent you and set realistic targets. Targets for both for your recovery and for your settlement with your insurance company.
Recovery Takes Time But Not a Lifetime
We understand that your recovery will take time but it shouldn’t take a life time.
Our goal is to get you back to work, life and family as soon as possible. Not be stuck in an insurance claim for the rest of your life.
Nothing More Frustrating Than People in Pain
There is nothing more frustrating for me than sitting down with a new patient and discovering they’ve been suffering for years.
Lost time at work, missed family outings and generally feeling horrible is no way to live.
Many times it’s because of a missed diagnosis or poor follow through by professionals who should know better.
No doctor is perfect, but some of the cases I see are down right unethical and it’s frustrating. And if it’s frustrating for me, imaging how depressing it is for the patient?
If You or a Loved One Is Suffering
If you’ve been in a car accident and feel like you’re not getting better then we’d love to see if we could help.
Our team at Lighthouse will do the necessary tests to see if you are a good candidate for chiropractic corrective care.
We also take the time to share with you your results so you can understand what’s involved before we move forward with any kind of care.
If you have a loved one who is suffering then please forward this blog post to them, it could transform their life.
Yours in Health,