Let me try to get back on the task of posting some work-related information on this blog.
Thus far, what I have done is try to post some educational information about protecting yourself with the right insurance coverage so that, in the event that you were involved in an accident, you were adequately insured.
I haven’t really focused on what types of injuries occur from motor vehicle accidents.
The most common type of personal injury associated with car collisions is what is derisively referred to as a “whiplash” injury. This is a pretty poor term for a constellation of injuries that occur to the soft tissue of the neck, shoulders and back, and which can also involve the spine and its discs.
But, let me take a step back and define “soft tissue”, because a “soft tissue injury” has gained a negative connotation in our society. Soft tissue essentially includes all non-bony tissue in the body, other than your organs. So, muscle, ligaments, cartilige, even nerve tissue.
So, “whiplash”, and “soft tissue injury”; those are two different terms that are unfortunately used interchangeably and don’t really describe anything with particularity in a diagnosis.
When you are in a motor vehicle collision, even at a low speed, your body is violently thrown around inside the cockpit of your vehicle. It makes sense that the human body is poorly designed to handle impact from a multiple ton vehicle moving at any velocity, even if that body is also in a vehicle and restrained. That is because during a collision, you still move around inside the vehicle in a violent manner. In fact, wearing your seatbelt can actually cause specific injury to the shoulder and neck where the body’s movement at impact is impeded at that certain point. But, back to the larger point.
Commonly, in a vehicle collision, the head, neck and upper back are most vulnerable to injury simply because of their positioning in the vehicle and the lack of protection afforded them. Just as a whip’s cracking is most exaggerated at the tail of the whip, so an impact injury through the spine is most profound on the neck and head.
By way of example, let’s say that you are a restrained driver and are hit from the rear at 10 miles per hour. The impact immediately sends gravitational forces through your vehicle that move forward faster through the vehicle’s rigid frame than through your body. Your body is forced violently backward, into the seat beginning with the lower back which is securely against the seat-back. As that force moves upward and back, the whip-cracking effect I referenced earlier runs to your upper back, neck and head. As the ripple of force throws your head backward against the headrest (assuming you have one), the soft tissues are torn, stretched and hyperextended. Even in a best case scenario, this involves damage to the muscles and ligaments of the head, neck and shoulders.
More seriously, the cartilaginous discs between your vertebrae can be damaged. When you have disc damage, it can cause very serious pain for a number of reasons. A serious disc injury punctures the disc and it begins to bulge out of its normal area into the spinal column. This is known as a herniated disc. Occasionally, a herniated disc bulges and places pressure on one of the nerves that runs either inside the spinal column, or along the nerve branches that run out of each vertebrae. This can cause pain certainly, but also numbness and tingling in your arms, legs, and other areas. In many cases, this condition is what I call a “live with it” condition, but frequently can be treated by steroid injections (to lessen the inflammation and by extension, the pain) or by surgery (to remove the bulging disc material, or to fuse the discs together in advanced cases). Chiropractic can be an effective way to treat these injuries as an alternative to pain medications and surgery, but traditional medical care should always be a first step to ensure a complete diagnosis.
All of this from what is casually called just a “soft tissue injury”, even from the equally tame sounding “low impact”.
Perhaps you’ve been involved in a car collision and are dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance. They’ve handled your property damage fairly well, but now they’re telling you that you’ve got merely a “soft tissue injury”. Don’t let them make you feel like you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.
The cascade of chemicals that your body releases after even the smallest trauma are harmful in the short term, and certainly don’t improve your overall physical condition in the long term. You are going to deal with your injury for the rest of your life in some sense.
One of the features that hiring a personal injury attorney offers is having someone in your corner who simply listens without a cynical ear. That alone can help you heal faster. Instead of having to justify yourself to a jaundiced insurance adjuster who isn’t going to change their position, you have someone who is familiar with what you’re dealing with.
This is obviously a very, very simple introduction in to what constitutes a very complex subject. Call me if you’re interested in talking more about it, or if you’ve been injured. I am happy to sit with you and talk about your specific case or answer any questions you may have.