Auto Injuries can encompass a wide range of diagnoses, and often symptoms do not appear for 12-48 hours.
It is also very common for symptoms to take up to two full weeks to appear. The most common injuries are sprain and
strain type injuries. A Sprain is a tear in a ligament responsible for holding two bones together. A tear does not
necessarily mean that the ligament has been completely separated, but rather the outer layers have begun to fray like an
old piece of rope. The frayed outer layer weakens the integrity of the ligament and allows it to stretch beyond its
normal length, thereby making the joint unstable. Because the joint has become unstable, the body attempts to splint
the joint by putting the local muscles into spasm. There are not many nerve endings in ligaments; therefore, pain level
initially may be very low or none at all. However, muscle tissue has a very large amount of nerve fibers. Once a muscle
has gone into full spasm, typically 12-48 hours post-injury, it begins to send pain signals to the brain. The muscles
will remain in spasm, and eventually shorten, until the joint has returned to its normal position and becomes stable.
However, the spasm of the muscle itself does not allow the joint to return to its normal position and stabilize.
treatment is two-fold, the first goal is to re-align the injured joint through the use of precise "Adjustments". The second
goal of treatment is to stabilize the joint through the use of therapeutic exercise, also known as physical therapy. A Strain
typically accompanies Sprain injuries, but is a separate condition of its own. A Strain is a tear of muscle fibers, which
is commonly seen in patients who "Brace" before impact. The pre-tightening of the muscles in an auto incident renders them
less flexible and thereby more prone to tearing. Treatment is targeted toward relaxing and resting the injured muscle initially,
with therapeutic exercise introduced to re-strengthen the muscle once the fibers have begun to heal. With either injury it is
very important that you DO NOT STRETCH the injured region. Stretching a Strained or Sprained joint will worsen the tear and
result in more muscle spasm. A stretch may feel good temporarily but will significantly extend recovery time and pain. Other
injuries seen in some auto incidents are Fractures, Concussions, Lacerations, etc. While Chiropractors can diagnose
these conditions, any patient with these more serious conditions will be referred to the ER or a proper specialist for co-management.