Motor vehicle accidents: When should I get evaluated for injuries?

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The answer is immediately following the accident, even if you don't have any pain. The reason for this is that many individuals do not display symptoms for days, weeks or even months after the incident. It is important to have a thorough evaluation by a qualified physician, either your family physician or a chiropractor to determine if you sustained any injuries or complicating factors of previous health concerns.

Some family physicians may even make a recommendation for physical therapy or chiropractic care. In many instances, it will be recommended that you have X-rays or advanced imaging of the spine, head or extremities- shoulder, knee, hand, etc. to rule out structural changes or damage caused by the impact.

Symptoms can vary from very subtle to severe and you never want to ignore any changes in your overall health. It is critical to report any changes in vision, headaches, ringing in the ears or changes in memory/ focus which can be indicative of a concussion.

Oftentimes people report the accident as minor or they didn't get hurt. Either way, it is still recommended that you be evaluated.

Early detection is always the best remedy for recovery. Trauma research shows that even in motor vehicle accidents where the speed was 5 mph still resulted in injuries to the human body, they may be less severe but it still caused changes in normal motion and function.

We continue to learn more about concussions and we now understand that concussions are not only the result of a direct impact to the head or skull but from the quick movement or shaking of the brain tissue within the skull. That is exactly what happens when you are in a motor vehicle accident. With a sudden impact or sudden stop of your vehicle, your body continues to move forward and then jerk back.

This causes your head to move quickly back and forth or side to side causing stress and strain not only on your cervical spine and muscles but creates irritation to the brain. The most common symptom that is reported after motor vehicle accidents are headaches, disorientation and neck pain.

Don't forget about your children. It is just as important to have children evaluated following a motor accident because most kids will not report any pain or they don't really understand what they feel. The wonderful thing about children is that when evaluated immediately following a trauma, they tend to respond very well to treatment and recover quickly. You may not think of chiropractic for your child or aren't sure if you are comfortable with the idea.

That is why it is our utmost importance to earn your trust and explain what we do. We schedule specific time to evaluate your child, determine the problem or condition, and then explain our safe, gentle procedures before any treatment is performed. We want to make sure you and most importantly your child are comfortable with our office.

Dr. Fichter has treated thousands of children over his 16 years of experience and values the privilege of that responsibility. If you are still unsure, then we recommend having them evaluated by your family physician. We collaborate care with several physical therapists and family physicians in the community because we want to provide you and your family with the best and most effective care to aid in your overall healing and recovery. We look forward to the opportunity to help you, for more information please contact us at (208) 966-4425.

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Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene.

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