Why That “Fender Bender” May Be Worse For You Than a Major Crash

Like most chiropractors, McAuliffe Chiropractic Office, sees a lot of patients who have been in car accidents. While some of these patients come to us after a major collision, some of the most serious injuries we see are actually a result of small fender benders.

Rear-end accidents are actually the most common type of automobile accident in America.  And while sometimes, the damage on your car may make it seem like these fender benders aren’t all that serious, they can have some pretty significant implications. Many times, people who are in “fender benders” have some initial soreness, discomfort or headaches. However, these rear-end accidents can actually cause permanent injuries and chronic issues.  

Even at slower speeds, rear-end accidents can lead to a Whiplash injury.  Most people know that following an accident, they should call their insurance company and many times when you are feeling sore after this accident, the insurance company will send you to a local chiropractor for care. This is because fender-benders are known for causing serious Whiplash injuries that when not treated can lead to a lifetime of pain.

What exactly happens with a Whiplash injury?

When you are abruptly rear ended by an automobile, even a slow-moving one, it can lead to an acceleration-deceleration injury. This causes the neck and head to fully extend past its normal limits, tearing ligaments and discs along the way.  The immediate result is serious pathology such as herniations, bleeding and tearing of tissue, which can be permanent conditions. For some people it can cause torn ligaments, push joints out of place or cause serious muscle strain. This can happen in any injury that the accident reaches speeds of 6.8 MPH, and most fender benders happen at even faster speeds.

These findings have been confirmed by both The Spine Research Institute of San Diego and a Yale University study published in The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.  Without the transfer of energy from the moving vehicles to crush zones designed in the car, such as airbags, that energy from the vehicle behind you can be transmitted through you, and unfortunately through your neck. 

All that energy and force has to go somewhere. When your neck makes that rapid forward and backward “whipping” motion, it’s responding to all of that energy, and unfortunately the soft tissue of the ligaments and the discs are often damaged during this reaction.

Typically, you will see signs and symptoms of whiplash in the first few days of injury, which may include:

Even if your symptoms seem mild, they may still be indicative of a more serious problem—and you want to make sure that you get checked right away.

While most people do recover from a whiplash injury after a few weeks or months of treatment—there are others who suffer from chronic neck pain and other complications after a whiplash injury. The best thing you can do to prevent serious complications from forming is to get your neck checked out immediately.

While no one ever wants to be involved in a fender bender, or with a Whiplash injury, it is important to know what to do when one does occur. If you have been involved in an accident, give us a call right away at 301-776-0755 or book an appointment online.

Dr. Terence P. McAuliffe Jr. Family Chiropractor at McAuliffe Chiropractic Office

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