If You’ve Been in an Accident… You Should Know…

You should know that many people who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident think they’re just fine, but actually, they’re not. They are often injured with damage that they may not even be aware of.

My name is Dr. Geoff Rose and I’ve been a chiropractor for 20 years, and recently made that very same misjudgment with my 17-year-old son who was the victim of a rear-end motor vehicle accident. I went out to the scene, looked at his car, and the car that rear-ended him. I thought to myself he wreck doesn’t look that bad at all, so he should be just fine but maybe a little sore. But knowing what I know, I had him come into my office the next morning so he could be examined to determine if he had suffered from whiplash.

Wow was I wrong. His neck injury on his X-ray was one of the worse cases I had seen in the last few years. Even I, an expert chiropractor for 20 years, treating these kinds of issues, had misjudged how significant a motor vehicle accident can be to the musculoskeletal system and how easily one can suffer true injury. How did I know? Take a look at his X-rays below.

The black lines were drawn to gauge the alignment of the vertebrae. In a normal, healthy situation with no ligament damage, the lines should align from end to end.

In the x-ray on the left, a typical lateral image taken with no flexion, it appears that the vertebrae are fairly aligned. Notice, however, a little gap between vertebra numbers 4 and 5.  If this is all that was taken, it would normally be an indication of minimal or no damage following the accident.

Now compare it to the next xray with the neck bending forward. Can you spot the gaps? Notice the pronounced difference or gaps between the lines. This is a clear indication of ligament damage… small amounts of ligament tearing, like the bad sprain of an ankle joint. If you were in an accident and only received a lateral xx-ray(without flexion and extension views) and given a clean bill of health, you may have still suffered undetected damage and therefore, would be totally unaware of its occurrence.

Lateral Xray after auto accident

Lateral Xray

Concord Chiropractors - Lateral Xray with Flexion after auto accident

Lateral Xray With Flexion

I never wanted to be that doctor who chased after people who had just been in a motor vehicle accident, but over the years I’ve tried my best to educate my patients about the long-term dangers of untreated motor vehicle accident injuries. Why? Because these types of old injuries are the number one reason patients come into my office… the only problem is that it’s 10, 15 or 20 years after the accident and now it’s because of a recent neck pain with no “known” cause.

But guess what we find when we X-ray those patients? Degenerative arthritis usually at the C5/C6 level, the most commonly injured vertebrae in the neck from whiplash type traumas. I always ask them if they recall being in a motor vehicle accident approximately 15 years prior and they think I must have secret diagnostic skill until I point out how easy it was to tell from the arthritis that is now showing up on their X-ray. The surprise, and then frustration, or even anger, that I see on their face has become more and more disheartening over the years.

So, now that you know there is a significant risk for injury to have occurred in your spine after an accident, and you know that it can come back to haunt you later, what should you do? Well, that leads me back to this information.


I still don’t want to be known as that doctor who chases after people. Physician means teacher, so it is my job to teach people so that they make wiser decisions about their health, both now and in the future. So call your chiropractor if you have one and go get checked. If you haven’t recently seen a chiropractor, then call us and come in for a simple evaluation and X-ray to see if you’ve suffered damage to the soft tissues, ligaments, and structures of your spine. It’s that simple! And yes, it will heal if you do nothing. So will a broken bone without a cast, but will it heal correctly? With confidence, I can tell you NO. I wouldn’t have put my son on a treatment program immediately if I believed any differently.

So, now you know!!! However, the bigger question remains, “what are you going to do now that you know?”  Hopefully, you will act on this knowledge or share it with someone else that needs to hear it!

Check out our website or call our office today if you want to see what your X-ray looks like after the unfortunate motor vehicle accident that you may have just been involved in, or even one that you may have suffered years ago.

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