by Dr. Sean Paul Jenkins, Owner, Jenkins Chiropractic
I have been a practicing chiropractor since 1998, and in Casa Grande since 2006. I see on average about 10,000 people a year, so you can imagine I have seen a lot of different kinds of conditions over the years. There are a few that are more challenging than others, like disc bulges, scoliosis, sciatic pain and advanced arthritis. The majority of patients come to see me for a flare-up of a chronic pain disorder that was never treated or treated improperly.
There is one condition I have seen over the years where most people underestimate the severity of the trauma, and that is injury from auto accidents. I wish I had a dollar for every time I asked one of my patients if they have ever been in a car accident and they would say yes, but I was not hurt.
An auto collision injury is devastating to the spine. It changes the structure of the spine, causing you to lose the natural curves which affect the nervous system. It damages ligaments, tendons, muscles, and can set you up for a lifetime of chronic pain if not treated properly. A lot of the time after a car accident you may not feel pain right away due to a release of adrenaline and endorphins, but over the next 10 to 14 days your body will begin to relax and pain does increase.
The other factor is that the body will begin to heal and fibrotic adhesion will develop, which could lead to scar tissue. That is a huge problem. Scar tissue will restrict the natural motion of the vertebrae. Since the discs do not have their own blood supply they begin to dry out, causing disc desiccation and then premature arthritis in the spine, which develops in about two to five years.
There are countless studies showing that you can be in a car accident going five miles an hour with minimal property damage to the car and still sustain injury to the body. Hopefully you are never in an accident but if you or a family member is, please go get checked out by a health care professional right away and make sure X-rays are taken. If there is pain radiating from the spine to the arms or legs, an MRI is warranted to rule out disc injury.
Our first priority is to turn the pain off and much of that will be muscular, so ice, electric stimulation and laser therapy will resolve most of it. But it is imperative to restore the normal curvature of the spine and break up the fibrotic adhesions that will form around the vertebrae. Physical therapy helps, but we need to address more than just the muscle.
An auto injury is a neurophysiological disorder, and the spine needs to be adjusted by someone who went to school for it. A lot of the time, the problem is ligaments take months to heal, and it is important that the structure is stable before the patient is released from care.
So now you can see how not being treated for a car accident can cause you no pain at the time of the injury, but more later as arthritis forms in the spine. And if you are one of my patients and you have been in a car accident and have not come to see me, you better call me ASAP.