Following your automobile accident, the nature and the duration of the medical treatments you receive can have a significant effect on how your injuries are perceived by the insurance company. First, of course, you will receive a diagnosis for your auto accident injuries. The cost for the diagnosis is usually a tiny part of your total medical bills, however it will likely be bundled together with all your medical expenses for the purpose of a personal injury claim.
If, however, most of the expenses were for diagnosis (say a great many tests and examinations were conducted), with very little treatment involved, an insurance adjuster might attempt to use a lower multiplier when determining your pain and suffering. While non-traditional treatments can be a true lifesaver for many who have been injured in a car accident, the insurance industry has a strong prejudice in favor of mainstream Western medical treatments. This means you may have a more difficult time collecting for such treatments as physical therapy, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture or other forms of alternative medicine, particularly without an experienced personal injury attorney by your side.
Auto Accidents—A Primary Cause of Injury and Pain in the U.S.
Although most of us would find it extremely difficult to manage our day-to-day lives without a vehicle, car crashes are one of the primary causes of death and injury in our nation. Across the United States, more than 1.3 million people were injured in a car accident in 2012—a rate of 1,045 injuries per 100,000 registered vehicles. Further, a study published in Arthritis Care and Research found that nearly half (43 percent) of study subjects who reported chronic pain had been involved in some type of traumatic event, most often a car collision. Receiving prompt medical care following an auto accident is extremely important to minimize the potential for chronic pain. There are currently a wide variety of treatments available to help those injured in a car accident resume their normal lives with a minimum of pain. These treatments include:
- Physical therapy—In order to properly heal from your auto accident injuries, you may require physical therapy, particularly if you are experiencing headaches or pain to the shoulders, neck, back or joints. Whiplash injuries in particular, may benefit from physical therapy. Your physical therapy program will depend on your specific injuries, however could include resistance bands, stretching exercises, being placed on a cervical unit, ice on the injuries at regular intervals, heat stimulation, possibly with an ultrasound machine and physical manipulation in the form of massage or chiropractic care.
- Chiropractic care—Visiting a chiropractor can help your body regain its optimal spinal alignment through spinal manipulation or adjustment. The chiropractor will use a controlled amount of force to realign your vertebrae, preventing them from continuing to place painful pressure on your spinal nerves. While some patients may feel better after their first chiropractic treatment, most patients will require multiple treatments for optimal pain relief.
- Acupuncture—If you were discharged from the emergency room following an auto accident with a diagnosis of no specific fractures or injuries requiring surgery, but you are still in constant pain, you might have soft-tissue damage which often responds well to acupuncture. Acupuncture can not only relieve the pain from your injuries, it can trigger and support the repair of the injured tissues. This is a major factor in whether your pain resulting from your auto accident doesn’t turning in to a lifelong nightmare of chronic pain.
- Steroid injections—Facet joint injections are used to treat injuries and degenerative conditions of the neck and back resulting from an auto accident injury. The actual injection may be made in the joint, or in the surrounding nerves.
- Nerve block injections–A damaged spinal disc could require a nerve block injection in the inflamed spinal nerve roots. Such an injection blocks the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain, however the effects of a nerve block injection will wear off over time.
- Epidural injections—Pain originating in the spine can also be treated with an epidural steroid injection which works by injecting a corticosteroid near the affected nerve, decreasing pain and inflammation. In some cases, an epidural injection can be used to diagnose the exact cause of the patient’s pain—which nerve is causing trouble. The relief a patient gains from an epidural injection may only last a few months, then another injection will be required to control the pain.
- Cervical fusion—Cervical spinal fusion can be done following an injury to stabilize the neck and prevent a bone fracture from causing further damage to the spinal cord (which could result in paralysis). During cervical fusion, the selected bones in the neck are joined, using bone taken elsewhere from your body or a metal implant. A metal plate can be screwed into the bone, joining the adjacent vertebrae, or an entire vertebrae can be removed, then the spine fused. The patient will spend some time in the hospital following a cervical fusion procedure, and could need to wear a cervical collar during recovery.
- Lumbar fusion—Lumbar fusion is much like cervical fusion; a bone graft may be added to a segment of the spine which stops the motion at that joint segment which was causing pain.
- Open reduction internal fixation (ORIF)—A broken bone which might not heal correctly with casting or splinting alone may require ORIF surgery. ORIF surgery is essentially a two-part surgical procedure in which the broken bone is put back into place, then held in place with an internal fixation device such as screws, pins, rods or plates.
- Traction—Although the use of traction following an auto accident injury has decreased somewhat over the years, it can still be very beneficial for specific types of injuries. Chiropractic traction is when force is applied to your spine by the chiropractor, through the use of body weight, weights, pulleys or a combination of these to release compression on the nerves through spinal stretching and separating the compressed vertebrae. Many people find that traction can afford a significant reduction in pain.
- Myofascial release—Trauma, inflammatory responses or surgical procedures following an auto accident can place pressure as high as 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain-sensitive structures in the body. Myofascial release is a hands-on technique in which gentle, sustained pressure is applied to the connective tissues, eliminating pain and restoring normal range-of motion. The theory behind myofascial release is that gentle pressure, applied slowly, will allow the fascia (the tough, elastic connective tissues which wrap muscle tissue and other body structures) to elongate, relax contracted muscles, stimulate the muscles’ stretch reflex and improve circulation.
- Massage therapy—Pain from an auto accident injury can be reduced through massage therapy which loosens soft tissues, relaxes muscles and improves circulation.
How Martinson & Beason Can Help Following Your Auto Accident
If you have been involved in an Alabama car accident, your health should be your first priority. While some accident injuries could heal with no long-term impact to your health and well-being, others might not. The experienced Huntsville accident attorneys at Martinson & Beason want you to be able to heal following your auto accident without having the added stress of worrying about how you will pay your medical expenses. We will fight hard for you, because we understand how an auto accident injury can alter your entire life—physically, mentally and financially. You deserve to be compensated for your injuries caused by a negligent party, and we will help you do just that. We have a deep understanding of injuries and medical treatments associated with those injuries which can help you receive the best treatment available. Call Martinson & Beason today for a comprehensive evaluation of your auto accident claim.