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Dear Dr. Caraotta,
I had a car accident last October and had right shoulder and arm pain that ran down to my fingers. I went to the emergency room after the accident and the Doctor told me I had a shoulder sprain and gave me pain medication. It felt better when I took the medication initially, but the pain gradually got worse. I went to my General Practitioner who took an x-ray of my shoulder and told me it was fine. He gave me more medication and told me that the pain would go with rest and time. I had good days and bad days, the pain was bearable. Last month I had a cold, was coughing hard, and one time I coughed my shoulder and arm pain increased, and I experienced severe neck and right arm pain. I went to the emergency room and they did a MRI of my neck which showed that I had a slipped disc, pinching a nerve. Could this disc problem have been there since the motor vehicle accident?
Dr. Caraotta's Response
Absolutely. The symptoms you were experiencing after the accident were probably due to the disc injury. Often times a person will have an accident such as a whiplash injury, and experience a "progressive slipping" of a disc. A patient may initially present with minimal to no neck pain or stiffness or have predominately shoulder and/or arm pain. This is one reason why we recommend patients to have a Chiropractic – Orthopedic check-up after an accident.
The Doctors in our office routinely find compensation in the skeletal system after a accident and document as well as caution and advise patients of what to look out for as far as potential problems following a accident.
There are certain orthopedic tests that should be performed during the examination process after a accident that will confirm or negate the possibility of a disc injury. If these tests are not performed, often times disc injuries are undetected and the seriousness or extent of the injury is not discovered until a later date; and sometimes even after the claim is settled.