A common scientific understanding is that objects in motion will stay in motion. This means even low-speed car accidents and collisions can cause damage to your spine. Whether you were able to drive home or an accident took you to the emergency room, seeing a chiropractor is the recommended next step for your health.
Correct Spinal Misalignments
Get Treatment for Whiplash
Avoid Injuries Becoming Chronic Pain
Should I go to a chiropractor after a car accident?
For immediate treatment after a car accident, we recommend you seek emergency room care. If the collision was not severe, but you experience muscle pain and soreness in the following days, we recommend visiting a chiropractor. A doctor of chiropractic focuses on the spine and musculoskeletal system. After an auto accident, chiropractors can immediately offer treatment because their focus is on the parts of your body that are most affected in a collision.
You do not need a referral from your general physician to see a chiropractor. You do not need to wait for your insurance company to finish the claims process to seek medical attention. Insurance usually covers chiropractic care following an accident.
Get emergency care first if you require it.
A medical referral is not necessary to see a chiropractor.
Insurance usually covers chiropractic care following an accident.
Why see a chiropractor after a car accident?
Consider if you were involved in a minor fender bender in the parking lot of your office. There is no visible damage to your car, but if you take a closer look you may notice the glasses on your dashboard are now in the backseat. A lot of force happens even during a minor collision.
This force is what causes back and neck pain and other muscle injuries to show up sometimes days later. Seeing a car accident chiropractor helps make sure your injuries and strains do not become chronic pain.
Approximately two-thirds of people involved in auto accidents develop symptoms of whiplash (Source). Also known as a neck sprain or neck strain, whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck because of sudden extension and flexion.
With more than 6 million people involved in car accidents every year in the United States, that is a lot of whiplash injuries (Source).
Whiplash can also occur from:
A child jerking your arm while you were looking the other way or a rough tackle during a game could both cause symptoms of whiplash. Every case is different, so symptoms and treatment options for whiplash may vary.
Common symptoms of whiplash
Your symptoms of whiplash may not occur for a few hours or a few days following an accident. Patients with whiplash injury experience pain and stiffness in the neck, as well as the shoulders, arms, upper back, and sometimes upper chest.
Whiplash symptoms can also include:
Pain and stiffness
Some of these symptoms resolve quickly. Pain and stiffness can remain, and without proper care, they can become chronic pain issues.
Chiropractic treatment for car accidents
When you visit your primary care physician after being involved in an accident, the resolution may simply be a prescription and advice to rest. This can often lead to minor injuries becoming chronic pain points later down the road because the cause of the pain wasn't treated.
Chiropractic treatment is natural and drug-free. Rather than simply trying to fix the pain symptoms you are experiencing after the accident, a chiropractor will look for their source. Often this is noticeable in the tension in the spine after trauma.
Chiropractors use the following techniques for pain relief and healing for car accident injuries:
Spinal manipulation – a gentle thrust of pressure to correct alignment
Neck manipulation – focused on alignment and tension in the top vertebra
Muscle relaxation and stimulation – gentle stretches to relieve pain and tension
McKenzie exercises – reduce disk derangement caused by whiplash
How to treat whiplash
Immediately following an injury, an ice compress can be used for the first 48 hours. Chiropractic care is the most beneficial treatment for whiplash injuries.
Adjustive techniques used by a chiropractor improve the mobility of the spine and increase the range of motion. This eliminates pain, soreness, and stiffness over time. Chiropractors often pair adjustments with massage and other treatment methods to speed up the recovery process.
At home, patients should follow proper body mechanics when using phones and computers:
Keep devices at eye level to minimize neck strain
Do not stay standing or seated in the same position for extended lengths of time
Place both feet on the floor when seated, thighs parallel to the ground
You should remain active while recovering from a whiplash injury and follow instructions from your chiropractor regarding icing, home exercises, and activity modifications.