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Which Type of Doctor Should I See After a Car Accident?

Car accidents can cause a lot of injuries and mental confusion for victims. The impact of a wreck or fender-bender is enough to trigger the fight or flight response, but adrenaline boosts usually overshadow that. However, the pain and tension sets in once that wears off, causing bodily discomfort and stress in affected areas.

Most victims are unsure if they need to see their primary care physicians first or other medical professionals. Usually, the protocol is to see your family doctor whether you are in pain or not. While your physician will treat what they can, they typically refer car accident victims to specialists like chiropractors and orthopedic doctors for advanced care.

These professionals have the expertise to perform physical evaluations and diagnostic testing to check the severity of your injuries. Then, they will formulate strategic treatment plans that include chiropractic adjustments, massage therapies, and rehabilitative sessions based on the findings.

Why should I see my family doctor if they are not a specialist?

Even if you feel fine after an automobile accident, seeing your family doctor is essential for medical insurance claims. It also allows the doctor to check if you are okay and record the incident and symptoms you are experiencing. In addition, patients with HMO plans usually need a referral from their doctor to see a specialist; this is an essential step in getting rerouted to the appropriate medical professional.

Remember, strains, sprains, and even whiplash can take several days to manifest and cause radiating pain and stiffness. Internal bleeding may not show rapid, visible signs unless they are life-threatening.  Even broken bones are hard to pinpoint and detect at the scene of the accident. An ambulance team will be dispatched for severe injuries and rush you to the emergency room for immediate treatment and care if needed.

For these reasons, it is imperative to see your doctor – after an accident – to point you in the right direction to treat injuries sustained. This may be an expedited visit to the ER or an appointment with a referred orthopedic team.

Get immediate help for severe injuries

As mentioned above, you may need to go to the emergency room for severe or life-threatening injuries. This can happen after the accident has occurred or even days after the incident. If the police believe you need an ambulance at the accident scene, do not question their motives. They are looking out for your best interest, and you may not be in the proper frame of mind to make an informed decision.

You can also call 911 if you are experiencing:

  • Chronic or recurring pain
  • Problems breathing normally
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Bleeding that does not stop
  • Migraines and lack of mental clarity
  • Neck stiffness, back pain, and head trauma
  • Loss of consciousness or confusion (you may have a concussion)
  • Other symptoms that you feel require urgent care

Remember not to drive yourself to an emergency room. Instead, call 911 or have a loved one take you to a local hospital or medical treatment center.

What happens if a doctor refers me to a specialist?

Orthopedic specialists have years of extensive experience in treating car accident victims. However, they also check what the referring physician has asked them to look into – so everyone is on the same page. Most times, specialists are requested to follow up with the types of symptoms you are experiencing. For example, back pain after a car wreck may require orthopedic or chiropractic assistance. In contrast, a neurologist will step in if you deal with confusion, migraines, imbalance, and vertigo – common symptoms of head injuries and trauma.

Specialists also perform additional hands-on examinations to check for underlying issues. This helps them rule out some medical problems so they can concentrate on treating your injuries. After the orthopedic doctor or chiropractor completes the tasks requested in the referral, they will send your PCP a detailed report with the findings and recommendations. The regular doctor will then determine the next steps for treatment, which usually include insurance authorization to start treatment for your injuries.

Thus, your regular physician merely serves as an organizer for the medical care you receive while the referring specialists handle the rest.

What types of doctors treat car accident injuries?

There are several doctors and specialists with the skills to treat accident injuries. Crash trauma also involves multiple medical fields, each with a designated specialty to alleviate pain and help you get back on your feet. Here are some doctors that specialize in automobile accident injuries.

  • Emergency room physicians –specialize in treating immediate, life-threatening injuries.
  • Personal injury specialists – they specialize in treating injuries sustained in car accidents and other mishaps. They can also identify the types of personal injuries victims have suffered and formulate strategic plans of care to remedy them. 
  • Pain management doctorscan evaluate your pain and treat a wide range of pain issues. These include migraines and chronic back pain. Patients are seen in clinics and usually go home the same day depending on the severity of the pain they are experiencing. Pain management physicans also combine medication-based treatments with procedures that alleviate and stop the pain as its source. 
  • Radiologists – have the tools to read x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, and other imaging studies with detailed reports for the presiding physician.
  • Trauma surgeons – are called to treat broken bones, fractures, internal injuries, shock, and burns stemming from accidents. They perform surgery to repair severe, critical injuries and save lives.
  • Orthopedic surgeons – repair broken bones and injuries to tendons and muscles. They help car accident victims reduce pain and gradually regain function with surgical procedures.
  • Neurologists – treat spinal cord and nerve injuries from car accidents. They recognize symptoms like weakness, tingling, and numbness and begin treatments right away to prevent injuries from getting worse.
  • Burn specialists – have experience in treating car accident victims with burns. In addition, they have extensive training in handling trauma and critical injuries from automobile wrecks.
  • Plastic surgeons – can cover intense scarring due to deep facial cuts and broken bones. In addition, plastic surgeons repair injured areas and make them aesthetically pleasing after injuries have occurred in severe crashes.
  • General surgeons – treat internal injuries in victims that have been involved in car crashes. General surgeons are part of surgical teams that include nurses, technicians, and anesthesiologists.
  • Physical therapists – help car accident victims regain their mobility, flexibility, and balance. They also help victims improve functionality and keep pain symptoms at bay.

Why you should see a Doctor that specializes in auto accident treatments

While finding the right doctor after a car accident has happened can be confusing, seeing a physician specializing in auto accident treatments is your best. They are better equipped to analyze and treat your injuries than regular doctors. They can also deal with insurance company claims, while PCPs only handle medical insurance claims.

You will also find teams of doctors at auto accident treatment centers that specialize in pain management and orthopedic care. In addition, there are even neurologists and neurosurgeons available, with a comprehensive range of services designed specifically for car crash victims. Automobile accident injuries are never easy for victims and require immediate medical attention. However, while it may appear complicated and intricate, getting the best treatments is not difficult. Following the suggestions listed above can get you back on the road to full recovery and pain-free life.

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