Doctors' Choice Physical Medicine

Auto Accident Injury Relief

An auto accident injury can be peculiar. Some injuries from car accidents are straightforward. However, some injuries are not so obvious. Doctors often refer to these as “hidden injuries”.  Even “fender-benders” can cause hidden injuries. Sometimes people who have been involved in an auto accident may not even know that they have been hurt because there is little or no pain.  The pain comes days, weeks, even months later.  Doctors call this a delayed onset.  Just this week I had a patient that was in a car accident 2 years ago.  They did not have much pain and thought it would go away with time. Now they are coming in for treatment because the pain only has become worse.

If you have been to an emergency rooms after your auto accident understand that ERs find or rule out treat life-threatening injuries. If your auto accident injury is not life threatening, you will be discharged. Sometimes the ER will prescribe painkillers and muscle relaxers. Taking painkillers only masks the pain from these injuries. Muscle relaxers only dope you up so you can sleep. Although helpful to get you through a painful episode, they do nothing to help improve the injury.

Provided you do not have a life threatening injury, you should have a follow-up examination by a specialist in nerve, muscle, and joint disorders and injuries, a Doctor of Chiropractic.  After a thorough case history and examination, the doctor will recommend conservative care, such as physical therapy and chiropractic. The treatment is aimed to reduce pain and restore proper motion.   Early treatment can reduce inflammation and minimize scar tissue.

If conservative treatment does not completely help your injury, referrals can be made for other more invasive treatments.

Dr. Novatnak has a certification from the Counsel on Applied Chiropractic Sciences in Spinal Trauma. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Continuing Legal Education Board, approved his program that he developed and taught, Biomechanics of Motor Vehicle Accidents, for continuing education for attorneys. He has earned a reputation in the treatment of auto accident injury.

These are some of the ailments that are commonly associated with auto accident injury… (see below)

An Auto Accident Injury Patient Finds Relief at Doctors’ Choice


Whiplash is a non-medical term used to describe neck pain following an injury to the soft tissues of your neck (specifically ligaments, tendons, and muscles). It is caused by an abnormal motion or force applied to your neck that causes movement beyond the neck’s normal range of motion.

Whiplash happens in motor vehicle accidents such as car crashes, auto accidents, and truck accidents, as well as during sporting activities, accidental falls, and assault. Whiplash from rear end auto accident is very different from the others. In rear-end collision the head is snapped back then forward so fast your brain cannot record what happened. The action is completed in less than one half second.  The G forces are much higher resulting in a more severe auto accident injury.

Whiplash Causes


The most frequent cause of whiplash is a car accident. The speed of the cars involved in the accident or the amount of physical damage to the car may not relate to the intensity of neck injury. In slow speed rear-end collision, there may not be any obvious damage to the car… but all the energy is transferred through the car into the passengers.

Other common causes of whiplash include contact sport injuries and blows to the head from a falling object or being assaulted. Also, repetitive stress injuries or chronic strain involving the neck (such as using your neck to hold the phone) are a common, non-acute causes.

Sprains and Strains

The body is meant to move. Muscles allow that movement to happen by contracting and making joints flex, extend and rotate. Muscles attach on each side of the joint to bone by thick bands of fibrous tissue called tendons. When a muscle contracts, it shortens and pulls on the tendon, which allows the joint to go through a range of motion.

A strain occurs when the muscle tendon unit is stretched or torn. The most common reason is the overuse and stretching of the muscle. The damage may occur in three areas:

Joints are stabilized by thick bands of tissue called ligaments which surround them. These ligaments allow the joint to move only in specific directions. Some joints move in multiple planes; therefore, they need more than one group of ligaments to hold the joint in proper alignment. The ligaments are anchored to bone on each side of the joint. If a ligament is stretched or torn, the injury is called a sprain.  This is a very common auto accident injury.

Shoulder and Neck Pain

Your neck and shoulders contain muscles, bones, nerves, arteries, and veins, as well as many ligaments and other supporting structures. Many conditions can cause pain in the neck and shoulder area. Some are life threatening (such as heart attack and major trauma), and others are not so dangerous (such as simple strains or contusions).

Shoulder and Neck Pain Causes

Most shoulder and neck pain results from injury to muscles and ligaments. The spinal cord, heart, lungs, and some abdominal organs also can cause neck and shoulder pain. Here are some examples:


Many times after a car accident people will have initial neck pain, are seen in the emergency room and treated. If the injuries are not life threatening they are sent home with some medication and told to rest. Unfortunately, many will start to have headaches, even if they have never had headaches before. Those with a history of headaches will find their headaches are getting worse. Most of the time the headache will dissipate over a week or two and everything will be fine.

But what if the headaches don’t go away? What happens and what do people do if the headache gets worse? Post traumatic headaches after an auto accident injury that get better in four to six weeks are considered acute headaches, but those that stay at the same pain level, start to get worse, or go beyond six weeks are more concerning. The headaches may be all over the head and moderate in pain with breakthrough stabbing, throbbing pain on one side. This more severe form of headache is associated with migraine symptoms and indeed is a migraine.

The key to post traumatic headache syndrome is to find a headache specialist and be patient. If the headaches are severe, chances are that it will take several months for any one treatment to have an effect. Most people are not aware of this fact in headache treatment, so they tend to start and stop treatments after a few days or weeks and become discouraged. The longer the brain has the treatments on board, the greater the chance it will heal.


Numbness and tingling down the arms and legs, also known as paresthesia, can also include symptoms such as pain, burning, pricking, or creeping along the skin. These symptoms generally indicate a malfunction of sensory nerves. While many sufferers of numbness, tingling, and pain in their arms and legs recall specific traumas such as head injuries, auto accidents injury or a fall, which could have injured their spines, some do not. An examination is necessary in each individual’s case to assess whether an injury is present and what care would be appropriate.

Dizziness (Vertigo)

Dizziness is a common description for many different feelings. Vertigo/dizziness is a complaint that has been documented as a finding after car crashes in  the scientific literature. One source stated that 15% of car crash victims will experience vertiginous symptoms and 4% will have associated tinnitis (ringing in the ears). This is especially true in the case of rear impact collisions. The feeling of dizziness may be very familiar to you, yet difficult to describe.

Vertigo is a medical term to describe the feeling of spinning, whirling, or motion either of yourself or your surroundings. This is the same feeling you might have after getting off a merry-go-round or spinning in place. Several diseases of the balance organs of the inner ear can cause vertigo, or it may be a symptom of a tumor or stroke. It may also be a result of an injury.

Dizziness may be just mildly annoying or caused by something possibly life threatening. Often after an auto accident injury, people experience this as a symptom of the injury.

Lower Back Pain

Auto accident injury back pain is one of the worst and most prevalent types of chronic pain. The tremendous forces created during a car accident are enough to tear apart soft tissue and shatter bone. Life altering spinal injuries are often the result of serious automobile wrecks and even minor fender benders can create some long lasting significant back ache complaints.

The spine is the most important part of our skeletons. Spinal injuries are common in serious automobile accidents. Vertebral fracture and spinal instability can result from the nightmarish force of a high speed collision. Occupants who are ejected from a moving vehicle face an even greater risk of spinal fracture, serious injury or death. Many spinal injuries require immediate back surgery and may leave the patient permanently affected in form and function.

If you have been seriously hurt in an automobile accident, be happy to be alive. Your situation could always be worse, regardless of the extent of your injuries. Concentrate on your recovery and try to make the best of the functionality you still possess. Contacting a licensed Chiropractor that concentrates in Auto Accident Injury relief and therapy is one of the first moves to make.

Pain in Legs or Arms

The cause of many instances of shoulder or arm pain is obvious. You do something to injure the arm or shoulder and immediately feel pain, such as in an auto accident. You may have broken a bone or dislocated your shoulder. Perhaps you strained tendons or ligaments by carrying too much weight for too long, by lifting something that was too heavy, overreaching or overexerting your arm-as when playing sports when you¡¯re out of shape-or by keeping your arm in an awkward position or even by sleeping on the shoulder. The resulting pain may range from an annoying ache to an acute pain that makes it hard for you to use the injured arm.

There are other, less-obvious causes of shoulder or arm pain. Each is distinguished by where it is felt, whether it comes on suddenly or over time, when it is at its worst, if the pain extends to other joints in your body, and if other symptoms¡ªsuch as swelling, numbness, tingling, fever, fatigue, and insomnia¡ªaccompany the pain. The causes of shoulder and arm pain include tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis, and gout.  Whiplash injury, a common auto accident injury, can also cause shoulder and arm pain.

Shoulder and arm pain may be referred from some other region of the body, as when someone suffering a heart attack feels pain in the left shoulder and down the left arm. The pain may also be referred from nerves associated with the joints in the upper spine or “trigger points” in the back, which are particularly responsive to chiropractic spinal adjustments and physical therapy designed to treat such problems.

Legs are generally abused from standing or sitting for long periods of time. It is important to stretch, massage, and incorporate joint movement to get pain relief. The knee is a complex joint influenced by muscles from above and below the joint. Knee instability is often compensated for by increased muscle tension in the leg muscles and shortening of the iliotibial tract (large connective tissue structure on the outside of the leg). Car accident injuries that damage these parts of the leg require special attention.  With the newer “cab forward” car design we are seeing many more knee injuries from auto accidents because the knees are slamming into the dash.

Car Seatbelt Injury

Another common type of personal injury experienced from a car accident is seatbelt injury. This is hardly surprising really when you think what happens in a car accident. Whether some car has rear ended your car or anther car has rammed into the side of your car you will be jerked forward or sideways. This thrust will have an effect on your body even if you are wearing a seatbelt. Obviously wearing a seatbelt is law and rightly so. There have been a number of studies into the safety of passengers and the tests showed that if you ware a seatbelt you are less likely to be injured as seriously than if you were not wearing one. All the same you can still be damaged by a seatbelt and in some case quite seriously.

Although lifesaving, the seatbelt causes misaligned ribs and vertabrae which in turn pinch and pull the nerves which are connected to these affected areas. The result is pain. Why go untreated after an automobile accident? Pain does not have to become a way of life after an accident. If you’re involved in an accident, whether it occurs on the job or on the road, contact our office for a complete post accident examination. It could save you from having to say, “….it’s never been the same after the accident.”

If you have been in auto accident call Doctors’ Choice at 570-622-2525 for an comprehensive examination to determine your injuries