Auto accident injuries should not be judged just by the damage of the vehicles involved since even a simple fender bender can cause whiplash and soft tissue injuries. Sometimes the symptoms of these injuries don’t surface until days after the accident. We recommend that you be seen by a chiropractor to prevent any injury from turning into a long-term condition.

If there are no obvious injuries, why should people seek medical attention immediately at a hospital or urgent care facility?

Dr. Jeffrey Clark: Well, let me ask you it this way.  First of all, the way that question was asked, I think you said if no obvious symptoms occurred so why would they go to the emergency room or go to urgent care? You know, first off, most of our patients don’t. They come and see us right away when these things happen and I don’t mean just our patients –  but they are referrals of their friends who have been through something similar. First off, I don’t think they need to go to urgent care or a hospital if there isn’t an obvious symptom such as faint, dizziness or a blatant head or neck trauma. You know, obviously, if they’re in or out of consciousness, I don’t want them coming here. I want them to get over to the hospital right away and probably not even urgent care. I would want them to get to a full service hospital.

A lot of times when these accidents occur, they’re already evaluated at the scene. I always feel like if they’re able to release them at the scene and say, “Okay, just seek some medical care in the next 24 hours,” well those patients are going to end up in our office without going through the other stuff. You know, we’ve got great emergency care out there. When that happens at the scene, I feel like they’ve done a lot to keep people out of a crisis but I do believe they should have their spine checked because most pain after an accident doesn’t even show up for about 3 days or longer after that accident.

Should auto accident victims see a chiropractor after seeing a medical doctor? What would the chiropractor look for that the medical facility might have missed?

Dr. Jeffrey Clark: It kind of goes back to the same question. I don’t seem to have many patients come after they have seen a medical doctor for an accident, for example. If they do, they’ve already been to either urgent care or the hospital. At the same time, most patients see a chiropractor first for spinal injury. I wouldn’t say the medical doctor missed anything. That’s what they’re trained in is for maybe crisis care or something like that. Their training is different. We look at the spinal health problem instead of just symptoms of pain, “My neck hurts or something.” A lot of times, I’ll have patients tell me, “You know, the other doctor, when I saw him, he just said, Where does it hurt and I pointed to it and he wrote me out a prescription.” Well, we look and we palpate and we touch the patient. We find out what’s going on and most generally we’ll take some pictures of the spine to see what’s going on. We look to the spine for pinched nerves and irritation of the nerve first. A matter of fact, one the quotes that BJ Palmer had said is “Medicine is the study of disease and what causes man to die. Chiropractic is the study of health and what causes man to live.” There’s a difference of what we look at. We don’t want to be ‘sick care.’ We want it to be ‘health are.’

Do most auto insurance companies pay for medical treatments after an accident if a claim is filed?

Dr. Jeffrey Clark: Yes, they do Liz, and that’s a good question because a lot of times patients don’t realize, “Well I don’t know if my auto insurance is going to cover this claim so I waited until I knew I had my regular health insurance in place or something like that.” Typically we’ll file both. In the state of Nebraska, we went through, before I even got in practice, years ago back in I believe it was 1967 or 1969 with the insurance equality law. They started paying for claims back then for those different things and now that’s just the way the business is done. A lot of that is covered as you go. In Nebraska, they passed a law several years ago about what’s called Segregation. If someone was involved in an automobile accident and their auto insurance paid for it but it wasn’t their fault, in the state of the Nebraska the other insurance that caused the accident has to refund back to the patient’s insurance if they weren’t the one that caused the accident. Yeah, we have very good coverage around the country, not just in Nebraska.

What are some mild, seemingly unrelated symptoms that should never be ignored after a car accident?

Dr. Jeffrey Clark: There’s a lot that seem to be mild – maybe some stiffness that seems to be mild or their neck is stiff after an accident or their upper back is stiff or maybe they have some tingling going down their arm or their hand. That may seem mild because it’s just tingling. They can still use their hand. Maybe some numbness. Loss of sleep, you know, they’re not sleeping good because their neck or somewhere in their spine is bothering them, it wakes them up in the middle of the night. That seems to be mild. Even neck pain like in the front of the neck. A lot of people think neck pain is going to be just in the back of the neck. As you can imagine, your head going backwards, well, the muscles and ligaments in front of the neck are going to be stretched and pulled. You’re going to have pain in the front of the neck not just in the back. Really, some things that may not be a big deal – maybe it is just a matter of using ice but you always want to be checked just to make sure.

How much time is involved in a typical chiropractic treatment plan for someone suffering whiplash or other common auto accident injuries? Should people expect to visit the chiropractor weekly or more or less often?

Dr. Jeffrey Clark: Again, that depends on, and I’ve seen it happen both ways. I’ve seen like very simple car accidents. You know, maybe a fender bender in the parking lot where no one was going very fast but maybe the person backing up had their head turned way backwards looking behind them and got hit from the rear. That’s going to be a little bit different to their neck than if they were looking straight ahead. They may have pain from that. A lot of times, they’re a little confused, “How come my neck is still sore, it really wasn’t a big accident?” You got to remember, the way cars are built these days, it’s not just to protect the passengers, it’s to protect the car. The bumper doesn’t look like anything is wrong with it, there’s no real damage that you can see. A lot of times, you look at it, you end up seeing where the bumper was actually pushed in. It doesn’t look like nothing was done to the car, but what about the passengers inside? I’ve had people that were in slow moving accidents where not much damage to the car but when they got out of the car, they realized their glasses that were on the dashboard are now in the backseat. There’s a lot of dynamics going on inside the car that doesn’t seem to be much. I think that answers some of that.

How long would someone go under care? Let’s just say, on an average, let’s just say we’re starting with care, someone’s going to be under care maybe 18 to 24 visits and then we’ll do a progress examination – we’ll compare where they were to where they should be in relationship to their overall improvement. Then maybe daily for the first week. Then 3 times a week for 4 weeks then we re-evaluate it. It really depends. I believe everyone should be checked periodically whether once a month depending on their situation.

If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Jeffrey Clark, visit www.theomahachiropractor.com or call 402-393-0566 to schedule an appointment.

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