The Most Commonly Missed Injury in Car Crashes

There are approximately 6 Million car crashes yearly in the U.S. Over 3,000,000 people are injured in these crashes. Half of these injured people will have PERMANENT pain or disability. The emergency room is the portal of care for many of these injuries. For severe, life-threatening injuries this is the best place to go. But for everyone else who walks into the ER, they often are sent home without Xrays, told they have “whiplash” and given a prescription for pain killers or muscle relaxers. Even if Xrays are taken they doctor reports that they are “normal”. The fact is, that what they are looking for (fracture, dislocation, etc) is usually absent on these films. Basically, the job of the ER is to make sure you aren’t going to die or need immediate surgery… once this is confirmed you no longer need the ER. 

A visit to the ER can be reassuring, but for most injured people it isn’t going to help them recover. The “normal” Xrays from the ER do nothing to help in the recovery. Obviously, there is a reason you hurt after a crash. The issue is that the injury either cannot be seen with current technology, or the imaging performed was not the best choice to identify the injured tissues. 

A standard series of Xrays to evaluate the cervical spine can be as few as 3 different “pictures”. The fact of the matter is that many injuries do not show up on these 3 pictures alone. Many injuries can only be seen on additional Xray images. There are some Xray views that are capable of showing the integrity of the spine when moved into certain positions.  

Ligaments are tough elastic bands that hold bones together. These ligaments cannot be seen on Xrays. However, the movement of the bones can be seen and measured. When this motion is excessive compared to normal values, we can be reasonably certain that the ligaments were damaged. When the bones move more than they should, it is called alteration of motions segment integrity (AOMSI), or simply instability of the joint.

Whiplash Chiropractor, Auto Injury Chiropractor


Joint instability is commonly missed by doctors because they either simply did not take the necessary Xrays views to see the injuries, or they did not measure it on the films that were taken. There are over 40 ligaments in the cervical spine that can be damaged in an injury scenario. Identifying the specific ligaments that have been injured is very difficult to do. Many doctors don’t have the knowledge, training or software to make these determinations. Joint instability can be severe enough to warrant immediate surgery. However, most cases are nonsurgical in nature. These nonsurgical cases can be managed with conservative means, including chiropractic care.  

At Modern Chiropractic Center in Boise and Nampa, our doctors have the knowledge to recommend the necessary Xray views, accurately measure the spine stability using a researched software system, and the knowledge to know when our care is appropriate or when you need referred to a medical doctor. You can contact our office to schedule a consultation and take the first step to accurate identification of your injured tissues, so that you can finally have a path to recovery. 

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