I represent many clients from motor vehicle collisions, and each one of them has an injury of some severity. There is often a lot of focus on clients who have what you’ve seen me refer to as “soft tissue” injuries, because the perception is that these injuries are minor and can be overcome fairly quickly without much medical attention. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case.
This lesson was recently reinforced to me when my wife suffered one of these alleged “soft tissue injuries” to her neck and back after a very nasty snowboard fall. Over the New Year’s Holiday, we were snowboarding together with some friends. My wife, still learning how to snowboard, was moving very slowly and working on a turn up the mountain. She caught an edge and fell straight back, unable to brace herself for the fall. She hit her head and shoulders on the ground very hard. Let me emphasize that she was probably not moving more than 1 or 2 mph.
She was immediately woozy and hurt, and we got her up and off the mountain. It was pretty evident that she had a slight concussion, so she stayed on the sidelines for the rest of the day. She slept on it, and over the next week, had a little soreness in her neck and shoulders with some headaches. She figured she’d be better with a few days of time passing between her fall. Over the next month the pain only got worse. She began to develop excruciating headaches, which were brought on by increasing neck and shoulder pain. By February, she was completely miserable. More nights than not, she was not able to sleep because of the pain which got worse at night.
She began chiropractic care and the doctor told her that she had very limited range of motion in her neck and right shoulder. She had waited to get care just long enough where her neck and shoulder muscles were beginning to “freeze”. The pain was causing them to stiffen to the point that she could barely move them. That tension caused her to clench her jaw, and overcompensate with other muscles, which led to the bad headaches.
After almost two months of intense chiropractic treatment, her headache and neck pain began to finally resolve. This did not happen quickly or smoothly. There were more bad days than good for her in the process. She started feeling like she would never feel “right” again, which didn’t help her actual symptoms. Picking up our youngest infant son became dreadful for her. That’s tough for a mom. Going for a jog was out of the question. That’s tough for a health nut. Gardening became a guaranteed sentence of at least one sleepless night with increased pain. That’s tough for someone who doesn’t like to admit she can’t do something.
Even worse, after her neck pain began to improve, it became obvious that her shoulder was more severely injured than originally thought. The neck pain had masked this injury. She had to make an appointment with a neurologist, who referred her to an orthopedist, to finally get a diagnosis of a probable rotator cuff injury. This was finally discovered seven (7) months after the actual fall, and through a maze of doctors and scans.
This was a true eye-opener for me. Obviously, I hear my clients who have similar injuries tell me similar accounts. Watching my wife, who is probably one of the toughest people I’ve ever met, live in so much obvious and constant pain for so long caused me to have a renewed empathy and appreciation for my clients in similar situations.
It is very easy to empathize with a person who has a broken bone, or a torn piece of cartilage, or some other injury that can be quickly identified on film because you can
SEE the injury for yourself. For so-called “soft tissue” injuries, people tend to look at those claims with cynicism because the only evidence of the injury is the person’s description of pain. It should not be that way. Being hurt, and not having anyone able to tell you exactly why you are hurting other than a generic “soft tissue” diagnosis, is one of the most frustrating situations in the world. No one can tell you when you’ll be better, and no one believes that you’re in as much pain as you say you’re in.
I always understood that idea in the abstract, but now I have lived it. My great wife; a funny, strong and active person, was taken captive by her pain for a while, and the pain was very real. After many months, a doctor was able to get through the pain and find that actual diagnosis.
In many cases, a person complaining of a “soft tissue” injury doesn’t get complete care and the underlying problem is never discovered. Typically, the first doctor that sees that patient tells them to take it easy and gives them some painkillers and muscle relaxers, and sends them on their way. What a terrible way to treat injured people.
In our case, my wife was lucky to know to ignore that initial advice, and get to a good care provider who helped her and got her to other good doctors that she needed. People listened to her, and were able to get her healed up.
I understand better what it must feel like to be in a collision and have this type of pain, and have an insurance adjuster tell you that you’ve just got a “soft tissue” injury that should resolve on its own. It’s infuriating, and it’s not fair.
If you’re hurt, give me a call. Not only do we represent you in dealing with dismissive and unfair insurance companies, we know how to open doors to the right treatment in cases where it may be necessary. We also listen, and hear you.