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Auto and Sports Injury

auto injury

Accidents Happen

Sometime in your lifespan, the odds are great, that you or someone you know will be involved in an accident.  When this happens, the speed at which you respond to the injury will determine how quickly and completely your body will heal.

Most accidents involve a force exerted on the human body.  Whether this force is exerted by another vehicle, athlete, or object such as the ground, the outcome is typically the same.  When force is applied to muscles, ligaments, and tendons, these structures will typically stretch.  When stretched beyond their ability to expand, tearing will occur.

What happens to the body in an accident?

In the joints (spine included) ligaments exist to hold the adjacent bones together.  Ligaments are not designed to stretch very far and typically do not return to their former length after being stretched.  Tendons are responsible for attaching the muscles to the bones, and muscles help move those bones.

When a force is applied to the body, the body will react to the force.  Lets take for example the neck.  The head weighs about 9 to 10 pounds and is sitting on the top of 7 bones stacked on top of each other.  These bones are attached to each other by ligaments, and are surrounded by muscles and tendons.  When an automobile collides with another vehicle, the force usually makes the vehicle move.  The typical person is usually sitting stationary in a seat with their back resting against the seat back.  When the vehicle moves….so does the seat…so does the person’s body.  The head is on top of the neck but not supported.  When the body moves…the head initially stays where it was.  Picture this…your head stays in one place and your body is forced out from under it.

The muscles and ligaments are stretched trying to hold on to the head.  Once these muscles reach a certain level of stretch, a reflex (called the stretch reflex) causes these muscles to quickly contract.  Head is going one way and the muscles are pulling  the opposite way.  This causes the muscles to tear.  The bad part is, that when the initial force stops…the contraction of the muscles cause the head to snap back in the opposite direction.  This causes the  stretch reflex in the opposite direction tearing the muscles on the other side.

So what do you do?

Anytime there is a sufficient force applied to the joints of the body there is a possibility of ligament, muscle and other soft tissue injury.  This damage can cause the joints to become less stable and shift.  When these joints shift out of alignment and stay in this position, the damaged tissue starts to heal and form scar tissue holding the joints in this abnormal position.  When joints remain out of normal alignment, abnormal pressure caused by the altered biomechanics  may cause the joints to wear out much faster.

The body tends to start depositing calcium on the joints not working properly to try to stabilize them.  This process is called Subluxation Degeneration.  This wearing out of the joints, causes pain, inflammation and can even cause the nerves in the immediate area to not work properly.  The problem with this is that the brain makes everything work in the body.  It uses the nerves to communicate.  The nerves stop working…what ever the nerve goes to stops working.  I don’t know about you, but I want everything in my body working with 100% of the information coming from the brain.

The best way to react to an accident is to first determine the extent of the damage.  Proper treatment is needed to realign the joints and allow them to heal in the normal position.  The acronym “RICE” which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation is very helpful immediately after an accident to help control the swelling.  The body starts to heal immediately after the impact.  The sooner treatment is sought, the better the outcome is typically.

Dr. Steven Pierce specializes in the treatment of patients with an auto or sports injury. He has successfully treated patients with conditions relating to these types of injuries for 29 years. If you would like further information about how we may help you or to schedule a consultation, please contact the office.  We are looking forward to helping you in the future.