Car accidents are a fact of life, and they affect most of us at some point in our lives. Hopefully it’s only a minor accident in which no one gets hurt—but chances are, you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident. As millions of Americans know, the physical effects of a car accident can linger for months or even years.
The statistics are incredible. According to the National Highway Traffic Security Administration (NHTSA), around three million Americans are injured in car accidents every year. And when you look at what types of injuries people commonly sustain, it becomes obvious why chiropractic treatment is such a popular option amongst those who have been affected.
Many of the injuries sustained in car accidents have serious long-term affects on head, neck and spinal alignment. You’ve probably heard of “whiplash” or even experienced it—but what is it exactly, and how can chiropractic treatment help?
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries in car accidents—particularly in cases where a driver is “rear ended” or struck from behind. As a result of this sudden impact, the body is propelled forward while the head moves back, resulting in soft tissue and muscle injuries in the neck. Whiplash can also occur in other car accident scenarios and collision angles. Pain resulting from these injuries is often pronounced and lingering. It can affect everything from posture to mental clarity.
Here are some common symptoms of whiplash:
- Lingering and acute pain
- Limited range of motion
- A feeling of “tightness” in the head, heck or shoulders
- Pain accompanying certain head movements
- Headaches radiating upward from the neck or base of the head
How can a chiropractor help?
The first thing to be aware of is that we, or any reputable chiropractor, will carefully diagnose the problem and look carefully at your overall wellness before settling on a diagnosis and beginning treatment. No two cases are exactly alike, and each injury requires careful assessment.
If the accident is recent and the injury is in its early phases, treatment will center around gentle stretches and manual adjustments designed to relax the affected area and reduce inflammation. Once this has been accomplished, treatment methods will often move toward spinal manipulations and techniques designed to restore balance to the spine and neck, allowing the soft tissues and muscles to heal themselves naturally. The prospect of effective treatment without invasive surgery or drugs is one of the most attractive things about chiropractic care for car accident victims.
What should you expect?
As your treatment progresses (and depending on the exact nature of your injury), your chiropractor will use a variety of adjustments and spinal manipulations to reach your treatment goals. Some of these adjustments (such as the flexion distraction technique) are designed to alleviate herniated discs, which are a common occurrence in car accident victims. Other adjustments are directed toward specific areas of the spine in order to restore full range of motion and proper alignment. The alignment of the spine in particular is often affected at the moment of the accident. The right adjustments, performed by the right professional, can restore the spine to its natural alignment, which carries a long list of benefits.
Various manual therapies may be used in conjunction with spinal alignment techniques. Elements of therapeutic massage may be used, along with gentle stretching exercises and nutritional/lifestyle insights.
Is it really possible to heal completely?
Getting back to 100% after a car accident isn’t going to happen automatically, even with a skilled chiropractor on your side. With persistence and a good treatment plan, however, it’s entirely possible to mostly or completely eradicate the effects of whiplash or other injuries related to your car accident.