This is a question I am frequently asked. I strongly recommend that anyone who is hurt in an auto accident go to the emergency room immediately. Emergency rooms are in the best position to determine the severity of your condition and can provide medications such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers and minor nonaddictive pain relievers to help you get through the initial pain and trauma caused from the accident. It is important to know that most injuries worsen a day or two after an accident and can become unbearable by a week; thus the medications and treatment you receive at the emergency room can be of tremendous benefit. After seeing the emergency room, I strongly recommend that you be seen by a facility with a medical doctor who can treat your injuries. Most of these facilities also have a massage therapist, chiropractor, nurse practitioner and additional medical professionals on staff to help you through the treatment process. If your pain persists, most doctors will request for you to have an MRI to further evaluate exactly the type of injury that needs treatment.
Advising to go immediately to the emergency room is standard protocol for anyone who has been in a car accident. However, if you have injuries such as knee, wrist, hip, ankle or other types of injuries besides neck and back injuries, I strongly recommend you follow up with an orthopedic doctor. The facilities in which you be treated for your injuries should easily provide a referral to a specialist.
In summary, be sure to go to the emergency room after a car accident even if your pain is not significant because it will increase over time. Next, you should follow up with a facility that has a medical doctor on staff to treat your injuries and not just a chiropractic and massage therapist office. While massage therapists and chiropractors are an important part of the treatment process, you need a medical doctor directing and coordinating your treatment and there can be no substitute. Finally, if a specialist or orthopedic doctor is necessary, your doctors should be able to send you to the appropriate specialist or to receive an MRI within the first 4-6 weeks after the accident. If you have any further questions regarding the kind of doctor you should see or what you should expect from a medical professional in regards to your injuries, please contact my office any time at 877-444-2929.