In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, you have a lot on your mind. Between the adrenaline and the emotional response to trauma, it’s easier than you might think to overlook the sometimes-subtle signs of injury. How high of a priority is visiting a chiropractor when you’re already balancing insurance red tape and damage to your vehicle? The answer may surprise you.
At first blush, the idea that injuries sustained in a car accident aren’t always immediately apparent seems a bit silly. After all, people know and can identify the sensation of pain, right? The truth is, symptoms of conditions like whiplash usually present within 24 hours of the injury, but can and sometimes do take much longer to become apparent. For some patients, it’s not immediately obvious that damage has been done to the neck.
Outcomes for patients who seek treatment for whiplash and other musculoskeletal conditions related to car accident injuries are better when they get an accurate diagnosis followed by prompt treatment, but it’s not uncommon for patients to prioritize the red tape of insurance and car repairs because they’re not in pain at the scene of an accident. These patients can find themselves with stubborn cases of whiplash down the road, simply because they didn’t realize they were injured until pain, stiffness and limited range of motion began to set in later.
Unless you have broken bones, open wounds or other obviously serious injuries, a chiropractor should be your first stop after a car accident. A skilled and knowledgeable provider can not only evaluate your neck and spine for possible soft tissue injuries, subluxations, and misalignments; they can also document any injuries you may have for insurance purposes.
Depending on the type and severity of any musculoskeletal injuries you may have, there are a number of different treatments and chiropractic techniques that can be applied to relieve pain, minimize inflammation and promote healing while restoring your range of motion and relieving stiffness.
Your initial visit with a chiropractor following a car accident will typically include the gathering of complete health history, a thorough examination to assess the spine and any orthopedic or neurological testing your chiropractor deems appropriate. In some cases, your chiropractor may order imaging tests, like x-rays.
Once this information has been gathered, a chiropractor will begin to devise a treatment plan tailored to your unique needs and built to target your specific injuries. This will often include not just in-office adjustments and spinal manipulation, but also instruction in exercises you can do on your own to speed healing. What it will not include, however, is a prescription for painkillers or an invasive surgical procedure. The nature of chiropractic’s non-invasive, conservative approach to treatment means patients don’t face the risk of medication side effects or surgical complications related to treatment. Because many insurance plans provide some coverage for chiropractic care, it can also be an inexpensive and highly effective form of treatment after a car accident.
Seeing a chiropractor as soon as possible after a car accident, even if you’re not in any immediate pain, can help to prevent a host of pain and mobility issues in the future.