How Do Injuries Happen?

William M. Thomas, D.C.
"Dr. T."

Many people come to my office after they have an injury, but are not really sure how it happened. It may have been some very common activity, like picking up a pen, to sleeping in an awkward position and just waking up with pain. Other times, it's an obvious trauma.

The reality is that some of those injuries may be due to cumulative stresses that contribute to their body's inability to deal with normal biomechanical stresses. When your body cannot adequately deal with or distribute those biomechanical/physical stresses/forces, it may be a greater than normal stress on other parts of the body.


My belief is that the mechanism of physical injury (particularly neuromusculoskeletal) is this: All injury is caused by the inability of the body to deal with, distribute or adapt to change and/or the physical/biomechanical forces/stresses that are being placed on a particular part of the body at that particular moment in time.

To prevent or avoid injury your body must be:

1. Able to deal with the change.

  • The older you are, the less able your body is able to deal with change.
  • The more injuries you have, the more scar tissue (which is less flexible), the more unlikely the area is to deal with a change, especially rapid change.
  • The more degeneration your body has, the less likely it is able to adequately distribute the biomechanical/physical stresses that are being placed upon it.

  • 2. Able to withstand the physical/biomechanical stress.

  • By being strong enough to absorb or adapt to it. (Exercise can help with this)
  • By being flexible enough to absorb or adapt to it. (Chiropractic care, stretching, and exercise can help with this).
  • By being able to distribute the biomechanical/physical stress/strain/force that is being placed on it. (Chiropractic care can help with this by increasing the range of motion and degree of restriction that may contribute to injury and degeneration).

  • After an injury to help your body repair itself, and to prevent further injury you must either:

  • 1. Minimize the physical forces and physical stress on that part of the body.
  • 2. Build up that part of the body so it is better able to support those stresses. (Exercise)
  • 3. Stabilize the integrity of the surrounding structures by optimizing and utilizing the range of motion as well as maintaining the flexibility and mobility of the area so it can distribute biomechanical/physical stress/force (stretching, chiropractic adjustments and possibly some therapy).
  • 4. Then, tune up your body so it is better able to adapt to change, as well as, distribute those stresses using the structures (body parts) you already have (chiropractic adjustments). This is why I believe maintenance chiropractic care is beneficial. Quality chiropractic care that focuses on optimization of motion, as well as symmetry of movement and posture can be preventive when utilized properly.

  • For example, if you are in a car accident, there are a lot of forces that are being placed on your body. Those forces are much greater than your body is used to and are abnormal, which may cause injury . It is just common sense that the more force on an area; the more likely your body is to get injured in that given area. However, the better your body is able to adapt and or distribute the biomechanical/physical stress/force being placed on it, the less likely you are to be injured. That's just common sense.

  • If you are older, your body is less able to deal with change, biomechanical stresses, etc. In addition, you likely have scar tissue or structures that have some level of degeneration that make your body less able to deal with the forces being placed upon it, that will also have an effect on your body's ability do deal with the change and/or physical/biomechanical stress.

  • Even if you are young, healthy, and fit, the biomechanical forces being placed on a body in a car collisions are usually more than the average structures can handle, therefore, you get injured.

  • This also can explain why even in low impact collisions, injuries can occur. If one's body is unable to deal with change at a particular part of their body because that particular part was subjected to an abnormal amount of stress or change and that part of the body was unable to withstand those forces it therefore, "fails" and becomes injured (see above). It really is a question of probability and the likelihood that one would be injured, but to say that one cannot be injured or will be injured is nearly impossible due to the numerous variables that are involved.

    The mechanism of how one becomes injured is usually very similar, but the exact particular events can sometimes be explained in hindsight, sometimes not. Most of the time, however, the injuries are due to the accumulation of many little injuries (perceived or not) that when compounded may result in the proverbial, "straw that broke the camel's back", particularly when it is a relatively normal activity that results in injury . This is the argument that is made for maintenance care.

    Quality Chiropractic care, when properly utilized and understood, can hasten recovery time, prevent the typical acceleration of degenerative changes post-injury , and prevent injuries by optimizing the body's biomechanical response to change and/or physical forces.

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