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Car Crash Injuries and How Chiropractic Can Help

What Do I Do First?

Being involved in a car crash can be a shocking experience.  Many times the occupants of the vehicle are stunned and are not sure how to start handling a situation like this.

Here are a few must-do’s should you find yourself a victim of a motor vehicle accident:

  • If you sense that you are severely injured, do not try to be tough and get out of your vehicle.  Wait for EMS to arrive.
  • Take pictures of any and all vehicle damage.
  • Take pictures of any injuries to your body (cuts, abrasions, etc).
  • If EMS arrives on the scene, be sure to get care if warranted.
  • Save any and all information that you receive pertaining to the crash. This includes but is not limited to: reports, emails, notes, employer paperwork, healthcare correspondence — save it ALL!
  • Contact our office, or reach out to any chiropractor in your area that has had specialized training in cases like this, as soon as possible.
  • Document in writing all time missed from work, any new medications prescribed due to injuries sustained, the types of treatment you are undergoing, and all the areas of your body that have lost function, are in pain, or are exhibiting symptoms.
  • Follow the advice of your chiropractor and/or medical professional(s). This includes adhering to his/her recommendations for care as strictly as possible.
  • Opt for a complimentary consultation with an experienced attorney. If in need of a recommendation, ask us! We have a directory of well-qualified attorneys ready and happy to assist you.

This can be an overwhelming situation and our office is always here for you should you have any questions following your car crash.

Types of Injuries

The following is a very limited list of common injuries that are often seen following a car crash.  Each injury varies in its level of severity but ALL are taken very seriously.  It is imperative to have a trained professional examine, image, diagnose, and render a prognosis regarding any significant injuries sustained in your car crash. This should all be done in a timely manner following the event.

Here are some of the more common injuries that should be further examined by a healthcare professional:


  • This injury is by far one of the most common neck injuries following a collision event, especially in rear-end collisions.
  • This type of injury is caused by a rapid and forceful back-and-forth movement of the head and neck.
  • Many times, this injury will be associated with coup-contrecoup injuries to the occupant’s brain (i.e. concussions, brain contusions, brain bleeds, etc).
  • Research done by Farmer, Wells, and Lund in 1999 found that whiplash is indeed possible even in lower speed crashes where there is minimal damage to the vehicles involved.
  • Research conducted in 2008 found that whiplash can indeed tear ligaments throughout the neck and result in prolonged neck pain going forward into the future.
  • Whiplash to those patients with pre-existing neck arthritis (or degeneration) can make these victims more susceptible to bodily injury.

Herniated disc

  • A herniated disc occurs suddenly and is due to trauma, bending, or lifting.
  • A disc is herniated when the inner material of the disc protrudes through a damaged outer capsule that surrounds it.
  • Very common symptoms of herniated discs include the following: sharp pain around the spine, radiating pain to an arm or leg, weakness in extremities, and a significantly restricted range of motion, especially forward flexion and side-to-side bending.

Ligament and/or tendon tears

  • Injury to ligaments and tendons is often graded on a scale from 1 to 3, with 3 being the worst.
  • Research performed by Woo et al. (1999) stated, “Final maturation of the injured ligament is not complete for at least 1 year. Even at this time, the tensile strength of the healed tissue remains inferior to normal, uninjured tissue.” (p314).
  • What the above article tells us is that damaged ligament and tendon tissues never truly heal — they wound repair with a more unstable type of tissue that is permanent.

Bio-mechanical failure of the spine

  • These areas of dysfunction have been shown to disrupt the normal function of several types of structures within the human body including spinal bones, joints, discs, and even nerves.
  • Your doctor of chiropractic is able to locate and begin correcting these compromised areas of the spine, in order to ensure that you are not faced with bone, joint, nerve, and disc deterioration going forward into the future.

How Can Chiropractic Help?

The profession of chiropractic was created to specifically address the previously mentioned bio-mechanical failures that can arise in and throughout the spinal column, especially following trauma.  Once a chiropractor has taken a thorough history and has a deep understanding of the dynamics of your crash, he or she will first take the necessary X-rays to rule out fractures, dislocations, or any other contraindications to receiving chiropractic care.

Following any recommended X-rays, your doctor will proceed to perform a comfortable and careful examination of all areas that are of concern to the patient.  Ranges of motion, neurological, and orthopedic testing are some of the few methods that are commonly utilized to further assess what potential bodily injury and functional deficits may exist.

If our imaging studies and examination suggest that the patient is indeed a candidate for chiropractic care, the doctor will then proceed to treat the patient using primarily the chiropractic adjustment and (many times) supportive therapies such as intersegmental traction, hot/cold packs, electrical muscle stimulation, and the like.

It is vitally important to understand that the chiropractic adjustment serves as the foundation for the care that we render to a post-collision injury patient — namely, because it will directly address any spinal bone, joint, disc, and nerve dysfunction, as well as prevent accelerated rates of wear and tear in the future.

Should I Get a Lawyer?

Deciding to retain legal counsel can be an extremely helpful action step in many cases.  It is, of course, determined on a case-by-case basis.

Many attorneys offer a complimentary meeting where the primary focus is to help you understand your options, how insurance works, and what is involved if you choose to hire a lawyer.

A good attorney will also let you know if it is a better choice to NOT hire them, and just simply utilize car insurance to cover your necessary healthcare expenses.

If your case can be better handled between you and the insurer, the attorney should let you know.


If they feel you do not have a good case, most will be happy to offer you some very helpful insights on how to go about working with your car insurance provider on your own.

What Does My Future Look Like?

No doctor can ever guarantee what your progress is going to look like.  There is no crystal ball in the personal injury doctoring world. The best any provider can do is determine the proper diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment for your unique situation.  They provider and office staff should also support you in adhering to the recommended treatment frequency.

If results are slow and not what the doctor anticipates, it is his or her duty to have a team of other providers that he or she can call upon to ensure that you get the care that is going to best benefit your health now and into the future.

At OneHealth, we pride ourselves on having a wonderful network of doctors that we can call into action when and if their services are required to help the patient feel and function better.

Chiropractic is often quite successful in helping car crash patients regain their health and significant amounts of lost function, if the patient is willing to commit to the treatment recommendations set forth by the doctor.

It is imperative that you understand that many crash injuries can be permanent.  Quite often we see individuals affected negatively for the rest of their lives, with full function never truly returning due to the underlying damage in tissues we have previously mentioned.

The wisest decision one can make following a car crash is to TAKE ACTION NOW, not later.  There are time limits that start the minute you are involved in a collision, and the whole process goes much more smoothly if you do not procrastinate.


The longer you wait, the more consequences you may experience with your health in the future.

For more information regarding car crashes in the state of Colorado, please consult the following video:

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