The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations reports that more than two million people are injured every year in auto-related accidents involving either a passenger vehicle, large truck, or motorcycle. And hat number appears to be climbing at an alarming rate, increasing more than five percent between 2014 and 2015 alone.
Certainly, being involved in thiskind of accident can have long lasting effects. These affects range from headaches and neck pain to lower back pain, shoulder pain and even nerve pain down the arm or down the leg. In addition one study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that “a substantial minority” of subjects questioned reported experiencing anxiety when traveling in a motor vehicle post-accident, with 10 percent developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that, in some cases, plagued them for years.
Well, another recently published study has found that being in a car crash can also result in long-term physical ramifications. Specifically, it discovered that back pain can linger or appear long after the vehicle has been fixed and the debris has been cleaned out of the roadway.
In April of 2017, the European Spine Journal presented a study involving 789 adults, all of whom reported experiencing mild low back pain or no pain at all. Upon entering the study, each person was asked whether or not he or she had been in a motor vehicle accident resulting in low back pain, making note of whether their level of pain increased, decreased, or stayed the same six and 12 months down the road.
Researchers noticed a positive correlation between those who had previously been involved in an auto accident and the incidences of low back pain at a later date. In other words, having a car crash in your past may increase your risk of back pain in the future.
We see this all the time in our Roseville California chiropractic clinic. Lots of people who are in car accidents near Roseville come into our office complaining of neck and back pain months after a car accident. There are a number of reasons that people experience chronic pain months after an accident. Whenever someone gets a traumatic injury, like a car accident, they experience tissue damage, stretching or tearing of soft tissue like ligaments, tendons, and muscles. As soon as this happens, these tissues get inflamed. With inflammation comes cells called fibroblasts whose main function is to lay down new repair tissue (which we call scar tissue and adhesions). This is where the problems can be caused.
If this scar tissue gets into joints or attaches to nerves or tendons it can lead to chronic pain and disfunction. This is a common finding in our chiropractic exams of car accident victims. That why being assessed right after a car wreck is so critical. While this is relatively standard when it comes to auto injuries that can be seen or easily felt, damage done to the musculoskeletal system isn’t quite so visible or easy to pinpoint, which also makes it easier to ignore. Chiropractic care for car accidents is focused on reducing and eliminating these adhesions and scar tissue that could cause chronic pain in the future.
Educating patients is the first step to helping them resolve any subsequent back issues. The second step is to regularly ask them whether they’ve been involved in a crash, no matter how small. If they have, addressing that issue first and foremost can keep their quality of life from being compromised months, years, or even decades later.