Article written by Barbro Brost, DC, the Brost Clinic, Wayzata
The Minnesota winter is fast approaching and roads are getting slippery. Driving defensively, keeping longer distances between vehicles on the roads, and using good judgement regarding speed becomes more important! Despite being a cautious driver, we are more likely to get into accidents in the winter, since we have no control over other drivers on the roads. Fender benders at 5-10 mph can cause significant neck injuries even if your car does not have much damage. Bodies are a lot more vulnerable than cars! Your 10-12 pound head is like a bowling ball on top of your very vulnerable neck and creates a violent “whip” back and forth even in a minor accident. A whiplash injury strains muscles, sprains ligaments, misaligns vertebra and can damage discs.
Our first thought, after an accident, is to call the insurance company to get an estimate for car repairs. They will send an adjuster to assess the car damage which isn’t always obvious from the outside inspection.
The other call, which is often not made, is to a chiropractor experienced in whiplash injuries, to assess the injuries to your neck and the rest of your body. Just as with cars, these injuries are often not apparent on the surface. It takes expertise to evaluate the delicate structure of your spine and to treat any injuries that result from the accident.
Often there is pain, swelling, or muscle spasm to let your know that you got hurt, but whip lash injuries can be sneaky and not produce a lot of symptoms the first few days, sometimes not for weeks. It is best to get an evaluation as soon as possible after an accident so any injuries related to the incident can be documented and thereby covered by your car insurance.
Surprisingly many people don’t realize that care for bodily injuries resulting “from the operation, care or maintenance of a vehicle” as the law reads, are 100% covered by your car insurance. Care for these injuries are not handled by your regular health insurance, so you are free to see any doctor you choose and are not restricted to your particular health insurance network. Medical and chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy, etc., are all covered when you have been injured in a car accident.
Don’t let injuries go untreated, since they can come back to haunt you years down the line with degenerating discs and arthritis.
Drive carefully this winter, but if an accident happens remember that your body is actually a lot more important than your car!