Importance of seeing a Chiropractor after a car accident.


Time is essential after being in an auto-accident. According to the Journal of Orthopedic Medicine, “Chiropractic is the only proven effective treatment in Chronic [whiplash] cases”(1). Early intervention drastically increases the effectiveness and outcomes when it comes to car accidents. Now am I saying that Chiropractic care is the best thing for everyone after a car accident, No I am not, I am saying that it is beneficial to see a musculo-skeletal specialist. These could be Chiropractors, Physical therapists, Massage therapists, Orthopedic surgeons etc. Unfortunately for most people they only go to the urgent care or primary care physicians, who prescribe some muscle relaxers and pain killers. This gets you part way because in the early stages of injury after a car accident you are in the acute inflammatory phase, which is between 1-7 days after injury. This phase the pain goal is to minimize inflammation and pain, effective non-medication modalities are: gentle manipulation, soft tissue therapy, laser therapy, therapeutic taping to name a few. After phase 1 if the Sub acute phase anywhere from day 3 to around 3 weeks after the injury. This phase is categorized by inflammation reduction and feeling like you can move a little bit better than before. Phase 3 is the remodeling phase which takes place between 1-6 weeks typically, This is an important time to be preparing the soft tissues of the body to be ready to work again through manipulation, massage, and therapeutic exercises if tolerated. Phase 4 the functional phase is between 2 weeks and 6 months, the goal here is to be getting back to normal activities without re-injury. This is where physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue therapy and rehabilitation exercises are needed to get you to have the best outcomes possible after these types of injury.

Most people after a car accident either go to an emergency room or insta-care where they are prescribed Some muscle relaxers and pain killers, and told to take it easy. The more serious cases are referred to either a Chiropractor or a Physical therapist. Who is going to be the best person to see after a car accident? Chiropractor or Physical therapist (PT)? The answer is both in most cases in my experience. The Chiropractor is going to prepare your body to do the activities that the PT prescribes. How does the Chiropractor get your body ready for physical activity? Through a combination of modalities such as chiropractic adjustments/manipulation, muscle work, massage therapy, inferential current/electrical stimulation, laser therapy, ultrasound and more. The PT is going to help by giving exercises to strengthen the areas that were injured and need strengthening to create more stability after the accident.

What signs that say you need to go to see a professional?

  • Neck pain or soreness
  • Upper back pain or soreness
  • Low back pain or soreness
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Head ache
  • Sensitivity to light or sounds
  • lingering pains after a car accident

This is just a short list of signs that there is some tissue damage and that you should see a specialist.

I have seen first hand how much Chiropractic and Physical therapy working together drastically improve the lives of those people after an accident.

1. S Khan, J Cook, M Gargan & G Bannister (1999) A Symptomatic Classification of Whiplash Injury and the Implications for Treatment, Journal of Orthopaedic Medicine, 21:1, 22-25, DOI: 10.1080/1355297X.1999.11719898

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