4. What do I need to know if I think I've been injured?
There are two important facts that you should be aware of if you are the one involved in a car crash, and may be injured. First, because of the structures that may have been injured in your spine, degenerative conditions could develop within months, leaving you with a permanent painful condition, not to mention the disability to your nervous system as well.
Again, post-traumatic osteoarthritis is probably the most common degenerative condition.
Second, the most common misconception about this kind of injury is that it is only a little strain and that I will heal in just a couple of weeks.
There are three phases of the healing process.
The first phase is the “Acute Inflammatory Phase.” This is characterized by the swelling and redness of the tissue, which is caused by the bleeding and oozing of the injured part. The fact that this goes on inside the neck and cannot be seen, leads some to think that there wasn’t much damage. This phase can last up to 72 hours, so it isn’t uncommon for some to feel worse everyday for almost a week. Just because you start to feel better doesn’t mean that you are healed, you have only gone through the first phase.
The second phase is the “Phase of Regeneration.” This is when the tear in the muscle and ligament is healed with fibrous scar tissue. This phase of healing will last at least 6 to 8 weeks, sometimes longer.
The third phase is the “Phase of Remodeling,” when the fibrous scar tissue is remodeled into the shape of the original tissue. This phase is almost never treated by traditional medical therapy. To make things worse, if you don’t go through the proper treatment in this phase, you will probably have a permanent disability to some extent. And depending on the tissue that was injured, this phase can last up to a year. It is now easy to see why just taking some pain medication for your sore muscles may be a dangerous thing to do if you want to live a full active life after a car accident.
Just exactly what should you do?
In a study done by Kirkaldy-Willis M.D., he states, “These discussions clearly show that there is a component of motion that cannot be properly addressed by traditional medicine alone and that this component of motion can be properly addressed by osseous joint manipulation. Therefore, traditional chiropractic osseous joint manipulation is the treatment of choice for the remodeling of periarticular soft tissues that have sustained an injury.”
That is a complicated way of saying that going to a chiropractor is the best way to get the care that you should have if you have been in a car accident.