People get injured all the time. Sometimes from car accidents or sports, other times from simple things like falling down some stairs or twisting an ankle. The first reaction to an accident is to immediately see a medical healthcare professional – and that’s a smart reaction. Seeing someone post-injury is vital to your recovery. Even if you’re not feeling a lot of pain after your accident, it is still wise to see someone within a few days to make sure you’re okay.
But why? If you feel fine and you look fine, why do you need to through the trouble of seeing someone about it? Because injuries like to hide. They don’t always send out pain signals right away. For example: some people don’t feel their spinal injuries until months after their accident. And by then, permanent damage could be setting in. Sometimes it takes days or weeks after an accident before you feel the stiffness or strain in your neck muscles. A chiropractor can find these problem areas fairly quickly after an accident. They are also qualified to tell you that you have no injuries. Either way, it’s a good idea to see one.
Seeing someone like a chiropractor after an accident is also smart because it leads to a faster recovery. If you’re hurt, pain medication (like narcotics) isn’t going to heal your body quickly because it will lead to side-effects. Just when you start to feel better, you’ll be dealing with the drawbacks of the narcotics. By seeing a chiropractor first, you’re choosing the healthier, non-invasive option.
What Can an Accident and Injury Chiropractor Do for My Pain?
Chiropractors will assess your pain, first. They’ll take down a list of your history, the story of your accident, and your sensitive areas. Next, they may choose to do x-rays to rule out anything too serious. After that, you’ll get a diagnosis. Finally, they’ll work with you on a treatment plan.
What Does a Treatment Plan Look Like?
A chiropractic treatment doesn’t just consist of healing your injury. They treat your problem at the source so you don’t have recurring pain. Chiropractors will typically use one of four methods to treat your pain:
- Flexion-distraction. This is a non-invasive technique where your chiropractor will try to manually pump each affected area in an attempt to slide things back into place. (If you have whiplash from an auto accident, this is very useful.)
- Pelvic blocking. This technique sounds very simple – your chiropractor will carefully place wedges underneath your pelvis to help with your alignment. This is useful right after a sports injury when things have been knocked around.
- Manipulation under anesthesia. Manipulation under anesthesia typically takes place in a hospital environment and it’s performed by your chiropractor. It is a very seamless process as far as the anesthesia is concerned – they only put you out for around 10 minutes while they stretch your spine into place. They’ll also often use this technique to fix troublesome aches and pains caused by rips or tears in your muscles.
- Physical therapy or light exercise. Physical therapy is often recommended after the previous three treatments, but it’s also something chiropractors recommend after accidents even if you don’t have injuries. Your chiropractor can recommend the perfect movements for your injury. This will allow you to heal more quickly.
After you’ve decided on a plan of action and after you’ve put some physical therapy/light exercise in place, your chiropractor will carefully monitor your process. His/her goal is not only to get you healed, but to help you lead a healthy and pain-free lifestyle. Some of the options listed above will take multiple adjustments or appointments. Your chiropractor will be with you from the beginning, and he/she will be interested in your progress for years to come.
What Happens to Me During an Accident?
A number of things can happen when you suffer from an auto or sports accident. We’ve briefly touched on how your spine can slip out of alignment. Let’s go a little deeper into that.
Your musculoskeletal system is strong but it’s also vulnerable. The force of an accident can make things slippery back there, causing you to feel back and neck pain. Sometimes, as mentioned earlier, you won’t feel the pain for days/weeks after the accident (which is why it’s important to get checked out right away). The pain can be light or it can be unbearable. When the pain gets really bad, it can be difficult to stand, walk, or even sleep. Sometimes, back pain can render you immobile.
Whiplash is also very common, especially in rear-impact car accidents. The quick movement of being pushed forward in a moving car can move your spine backward and forwards – rapidly. This is going to strain your muscles, and it’s most commonly felt days after the accident. The strain in your muscles will most likely feel like a stiffness in your neck. You won’t be able to move your neck; your head will be sort of “stuck” in one spot. This makes it very difficult to work or enjoy everyday activities.
Why is it Better to See an Accident and Injury Chiropractor vs. My Primary Care Physician?
Traditional Western medicine typically involves medication. Medication is a terrific band-aid, but that’s all it is: a band-aid. It will cover up your symptoms but it won’t treat the root of your pain. This means your pain is likely to come back when you’re finished with your medication. Chiropractors work on the source, and they don’t rely on short-term fixes. There are cases where pain medication is absolutely necessary, but those cases are rare. If you have a good chiropractor, you should start feeling pain relief after your first 1-2 visits. They’re going to help you realign your spine, relieve the pressure on your nerves and muscles, and they’re going to advise you on what kind of physical therapy is best for you.