Updated: Aug 23, 2021
I'm going to tell you a story about "John". Johns come into my office all the time. Usually accompanied by their wife. John's story is not unlike others that have come in before him. John is a 52 year old male that was involved in a car accident two years ago. When he was in the accident, John didn't want to be bothered by going to the hospital or the doctor. All he wanted was to get his car fixed. He had to go to work the next day and he couldn't afford to skip a day. When John started telling me his story, his wife interjected several times to correct him on what happened and the severity of his injuries. John downplayed his symptoms, he was a tough guy and didn't want to show any weakness. His symptoms started three weeks after he was in the accident. He suffered from neck and low back pain and also left shoulder pain. He was the driver of his vehicle and was struck from behind when the light turned green. He struck the car in front of his causing a three car accident. John is a diabetic and has high blood pressure. His ability to get better takes longer than people without these conditions. He wanted to "wait it out" but even thou his condition wasn't getting worse, it wasn't getting better. His symptoms of neck, low back and left shoulder pain were interfering his job in construction. It was aggravated with everything he did at work. He decreased working out and was gaining some weight. He consumed over the counter medications like aspirin to decrease the pain but it was temporary. His wife finally got him to go the the doctor( one year later). He was given a pain reliever, muscle relaxant and sent for physical therapy. He felt better but again, his symptoms were persistent. He was discharged from therapy after several months as he reached his limit for coverage. He did not get an attorney and he feels that getting one now is useless. The at fault party's insurance fixed his automobile but because he waited too long to seek treatment, he feels like the insurance company will say his condition was not due to the accident. He came into my office, because his wife got a recommendation from a friend.
John had x-rays taken of his spine and an MRI of his shoulder. The x-rays of his spine were not what I would have performed, so I took a few more. The MRI did not reveal any tear in the shoulder but he did have inflammation which is not uncommon. Seatbelts do save lives but they are a product liability, in that when struck in an accident, the seatbelt will restrain the body while other body parts keep moving like the neck, and in this instance the left shoulder. His shoulder was getting better with therapy, his spine was not. The x-rays revealed straightening of his spine in the neck and the low back, disc degeneration, ligament laxity and arthritis. Again, not uncommon in a 52 year old construction worker. It takes only 6 months post accident to observe degenerative changes in the spine. Did the accident cause this? Or, were these changes already there? John always had back pain throughout his life because of the physical nature of his job but he always dealt with it and never had any treatment. There was no previous x-rays of the spine to compare it to. Regardless, the accident caused him to experience consistent pain in the back after the accident.
John's treatment started having him come in three times per week for four weeks. This is a standard, and not unusual. At the 12th visit we do a re-evaluation. If John is improving, we continue with the treatment. If he is getting worse or not showing improvement, we change some of the therapies or diagnostic testing and determine if that helps his condition. In John's case, I recommended treatment consisting of chiropractic manipulation, ultrasound and rehabilitation exercises. John was getting better and continued with treatment after 12th visit until he could a) perform his activities of daily living without pain and b) had increased functionality of his spine. John will always be doing his home stretches and exercises as long as he wants to stay healthy. I presume John will have periods of exacerbation and remission based on his past history and his occupation. What can we take away from "John's" situation:
When John was in his accident, he should have called Auto Accident Pain Relief Center of Illinois at 800-862-5914, 24/7 and then an attorney. Even if John wasn't having symptoms initially, he should have an evaluation to assess his condition and stopped any issues before they happened. Getting an attorney would help with paying his bills. Since the case was closed after he got his car fixed and then started seeing a doctor and physical therapists John's insurance maxed out and now he was paying out of pocket for his care. John had underlying health issues and degeneration of his spine. These issues may have been there before the accident and his diabetes and high blood pressure didn't help the condition. The degeneration of the spine was occasionally giving him problems but not like it did after the accident. His condition was dormant and when he was in the accident, it brought out the symptoms, consistently. He was taking muscle relaxants and a pain reliever from his doctor who is not a trauma qualified physician. This treatment may make someone feel better, but it is actually detrimental to John's condition. Basically, it is sweeping dirt under the rug. I presume John's spinal degeneration was caused by him taking over the counter aspirin to mask the pain and did nothing to correct the spinal biomechanics. Poor spinal biomechanics will cause undo stress to the joints and discs in the spine. With time, wear on these structures causes them to break down. The rehabilitation helped his shoulder but was resistant to helping his spine. The spine should have been aligned with chiropractic manipulation first, then the rehab should have started to maintain the flexibility and stability of the spine. The treatment was backwards. John will always need to do his home stretches and exercises to maintain his health. I always recommend chiropractic treatments to keep the spine aligned. If you experienced neck pain, whiplash, numbness/tingling in the arms or legs, headaches, low back pain, spinal stenosis, shoulder pain or herniated discs or bulging discs, call us today !!