It’s not uncommon for patients injured in car accidents to need to see an orthopedic specialist. Orthopedic specialists, sometimes called orthopedic surgeons, are doctors who specialize in conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system—including your bones, your joins, and your spine among other areas. Since so many car accidents affect these parts of the body, an orthopedic specialist is often involved.
However, that does not mean that every car accident victim needs to see an orthopedic specialist. Generally, you will first go to either the ER (if your injuries are urgent) or your primary care physician. Both of these places can refer you to an orthopedist if needed.
Situations where you may need to see an orthopedic specialist include:
- If your injuries are severe. Sometimes the ER will bring in an in-call orthopedic specialist immediately based on the severity of your injuries. This is especially common for victims of truck accidents and motorcycle accidents.
- If you have broken bones or joint injuries. Primary care doctors can often treat basic fractures (broken bones) without an orthopedist, and can also provide initial treatment for sprains and minor joint injuries. But more complex cases will often be referred to an orthopedic specialist.
- If you have back injuries. Bulging discs and other back injuries will often be referred to orthopedists.
- If your initial treatment isn’t helping. Physical therapy, ice, and rest are all standard prescriptions for many car accident injuries. If these initial steps aren’t working, you may be referred to a specialist for more in-depth treatment.
What should I expect if I need to see an orthopedic specialist for my car accident?
Here’s what you need to know, how to prepare, and what to expect when you go:
- It helps to find an orthopedist with the right specialty. The musculoskeletal system is a large system that extends throughout the entire body. No one doctor is a master over every part of it. There are orthopedists who focus on specific types of injuries, like sports injuries or spine injuries. If you can get a referral to one who specialized in the part of the body you’ve injured, it may make a difference in your long-term results.
- There is a chance that the injury is more extensive than you thought. Patients tend to put a lot of trust in their doctor’s initial diagnosis. But a diagnosis is ultimately an educated guess. And if you’ve been referred to an orthopedic specialist, it often means that your treatment wasn’t getting results based on that initial assessment. Be prepared to find out that there was another problem all along or that the injury may have developed since you initially saw the doctor.
- Be prepared for scans. Most of the musculoskeletal system is invisible from outside the body—an X-rays alone aren’t always enough to see inside. Your orthopedic specialist’s first move will often be to get you an MRI or CT scan, which gives them a clearer picture of what’s happening inside. MRIs, for example, are much more likely to reveal a herniated discthat was missed on an X-ray.
- Options may be surgical or non-surgical. People tend to think of orthopedists as surgeons, which is true. But orthopedists also recognize that less intrusive is often better when it comes to sensitive muscles and bone structures. They may recommend a revised physical therapy program, exercises, a brace or cast, or other non-surgical measures where possible.
Your Orthopedic Treatment Should Be Covered by Your Car Accident Claim
Remember, just because orthopedic specialists can be expensive, does not mean that you have to be left paying for your treatment. If you were injured in a car accident and it wasn’t your fault, you have a right to an insurance payment—and it’s often far more than what the insurer initially offers. You don’t have to settle for less.
We can help you. Our knowledgeable legal team has more than two decades of experience helping car accident victims. We understand the costs involved in orthopedic care, and our mission is to help victims get the money they need—without the hassle. We offer a FREE consultation. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.