First access the situation and check yourself for injuries. If you're injured, call 911 or ask someone else to do so and wait for the appropriate emergency personnel. If a minor auto accident you can exchange information, document the accident and notify the insured. Many times after accidents the adrenaline is flowing and you may not feel much, but later that day or night the muscle soreness and injury may begin to set in... This is where whiplash injuries, neck/back pain, headaches and misalignments in the spine may start to occur within several hours to days of an injury. A chiropractic consultation and examination as soon as possible after an auto accident will help ease your pain, start to recovery process and can help prevent long term complications from the injuries caused by the accident.
A common injury in auto accidents is whiplash. In fact, the American Chiropractic Association reports that approximately two-thirds of people involved in auto accidents develop whiplash signs and symptoms. Whiplash occurs when your neck “snaps or whips” back and forth suddenly. This movement could very easily damage or strain muscles, ligaments, and discs, as well as move the vertebrae in your neck out of alignment. Chiropractic care helps to relieve pain naturally by realigning the spine and improving movement in the neck. A series of specific spinal adjustments will improve blood flow, increase range of motion, reduce inflammation, and speed up your healing time.
Chiropractors use a variety of therapeutic techniques to treat the aches and pains that follow an auto accident. Massage can help ease muscle spasms, improve range of motion and reduce pain by encouraging the release of endorphins (which are hormones produced by your body to reduce pain). If you have a neck or back that feels sore and stiff then spinal adjustments, in addition to massage and other physical therapies (muscle stimulation and exercises) may be part of your treatment plan. A misaligned vertebrae can cause muscle tension and increased pain if muscles or bone are pressed against a nerve. A misalignment may actually occur in the back or neck but with a pinched nerve you could feel pain in the arms and legs as well.
Treatment can be helpful even if it has been months or years since your accident. Scar tissue and adhesions can develop on muscles and tensons/ligaments after an auto accident. This scar tissue causes a stiff and uncomfortable body with restriction of joints and muscle spasms. Specific spinal adjustments, massage and other therapies can assist in breaking down and stretching out that scar tissue. This helps restore flexibility and range of motion. Chiropractors often will give a patient a set of exercises to perform after they have been involved in an accident to strengthen muscles, stabilize spinal vertebra and decrease inflammation. The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine published a study where a sixty one year old woman reached out for chiropractic care three years after her auto accident. After six months of spinal manipulation and adjustments, she reported improvements in pain and in her quality of life.
Medications give us temporary pain relief after an accident, but the medications can have a variety of side effects. Chiropractic care offers a natural pain relief method.
Treating whiplash immediately with chiropractic care prevents auto accident injuries from becoming long-term problems. Waiting to seek treatment you will be at a higher risk for developing chronic pain, migraines, arthritis, bulging, herniated discs or even prevent surgeries in some instances. Just remember if you are driving your car down the highway at 60 mph and hit a pot hole that misaligns your front tire. This misaligned front wheel will cause abnormal wear to the tire just as a misaligned vertebrae from a auto accident would if you do not fix or deal with the tire. So yes, you should see a chiropractor after an auto accident – whether it is a minor or major accident. Thanks for reading, Dr. Joe