Check “Under the Hood” After an Accident

Have you ever had bad luck at the worst possible time?  I guess that’s why it’s called “bad” luck. I was getting ready to downsize out of my house into a townhouse. The never-ending stream of realtor documents for two properties and ongoing requests for more supporting loan documents was one of the most stressful things I’ve endured. Stressful because of the “What if’s??” …What if I don’t get approved and I’m supposed to move out of my house next week?? What if the buyers fall through?

But it all worked out great and I got exactly the townhouse I had hoped for. However, during all of this stress I wrecked my car in the parking lot at work—of all dumb places! I skidded on an icy spot behind Walgreens and hit the curb and knocked a sign over. The bumper and fog lights were trashed. Now I have a pretty new bumper with fresh clear mask! But it happened one week before moving. So I was thrilled to just get the bumper fixed and get the rental car returned the day before moving.

It occurred to me I should get the alignment checked after that “fender bender” because it could have jolted things. And since I just spent a whole house payment on tires back in the fall, I didn’t want to take a chance on trashing my new tires.

So a few weeks after the move was finished, I finally took the car to my regular shop for an oil change and alignment check. The guys at Southpark Goodyear got 3 wheels aligned but were stumped with the driver’s front wheel. A piece would not come apart (the tie-rod). It occurred to me that wheel was on the same corner I hit in the wreck. It had only been 5 or 6 weeks since the accident and I asked them if they thought it could be accident-related? They thought it could be bent from a trauma.  I was lucky that the insurance company’s shop also agreed that the work was accident related and I was able to get it fixed as part of the original claim—saving me $400 for parts and labor.

I couldn’t help but note the chiropractic irony of this story. Many times when we have a trauma, we check the obvious things and get those fixed—broken bones, stitches, obvious sprains and strains—whether it was from a ski fall, a car accident or our baby rolls off of the couch while we are not looking.

But we can neglect to “look under the hood” for structural damage. Just think—if I left the car in bad alignment, my front tire would have been trashed in a few more months and the extended warranty I bought for the tires would be null and void. Then I would have wasted the money on the warranty protection PLUS would need to buy 2 tires for not paying attention to the alignment.

I can tell you from 10 years experience as a chiropractor it is the SAME thing with our bodies. But unlike our cars, you can’t buy a new spine once it’s worn out from bad alignment. After a bad fall snowboarding or fall on the ice you think all is well once the bruises are gone. It’s not until 6 months later when migraines start or a low back ache starts that you have pain, downtime and doctor’s bills.

So getting “checked under the hood” after a fall or trauma is good prevention. You don’t know exactly what problems you are heading off down the road. But chances are you will head off something. And structural treatment right after a trauma may need very little compared to waiting until you have a full-blown problem—just like replacing a tie-rod today instead of the tie-rod and two tires 6 months from now.

The longer you wait after a work or auto accident, the harder it is to claim that pain is injury-related. So be proactive and get things checked right away. It can save you lots of money and time down the road!

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