From fender-benders to major crashes, car accidents often see victims in need of chiropractic care to decrease pain and get back to life as it was.

In the United States, there are more than 6 million car accidents annually. That’s a lot of people who get injured, either temporarily or permanently, and need safe, effective care for their pain.

The time following a car accident can be frightening and confusing, as you navigate insurance claims, medical bills, and court proceedings. During this time, you may wonder whether seeking chiropractic care for your injuries is advisable, whether you’re overreacting by seeking care, and whether or not your treatment will be covered by your insurance.

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When Should I Seek Chiropractic Care after a Car Accident?

The first thing you should do after your car accident is be seen by a medical professional, whether that’s in an emergency room or with your primary care physician.

This person will evaluate the severity of your injuries and possibly take diagnostic images such as X-rays or an MRI.

While you may not be in much pain immediately after your accident, many accident victims report pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving a day or two following the accident. This is caused by muscle and tissue that was damaged becoming inflamed and swollen over time, delaying the onset of pain.

Once your doctor or the hospital treats any immediate injuries and releases you to go home, it’s advisable to seek the help of a chiropractor for any lingering pain or stiffness you may feel, especially in your neck, back, or shoulders. Your doctor also may recommend that you seek chiropractic care as an alternative or supplement to pain medications and physical therapy sessions.

How Can Chiropractic Care Help after a Car Accident?

When your spine and neck become misaligned, this is called a subluxation. These subluxations occur due to genetics, everyday use of your body, and injuries, such as those sustained in car accidents.

Being in a car accident, even when you are properly restrained by a seat belt, subjects your body to a great deal of force.

This force can lead to subluxations of your neck and spine, tearing of your muscles, and bruising or damage to the soft tissue. When you have subluxations or damage to your muscles, damaged areas become inflamed due to lack of proper blood flow.

Seeing a chiropractor can correct these subluxations and move the muscles and tissue back into their proper places. This creates better blood flow to the damaged muscles and tissues, decreasing inflammation and promoting healing.

What Are Some Benefits of Chiropractic Care after a Car Accident?

Many patients see chiropractic care as a safe, drug-free, natural way to repairing injuries and promoting better overall health.

When you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may receive treatment from a variety of specialists for your injuries, including your primary care doctor, surgeons, and physical therapists. Making a chiropractor one of the specialists you see for treatment has many benefits, including:

Treating Injuries that Aren’t Obvious

Some injuries can’t be seen.

Broken bones, cuts, and bruising all are fairly easy to spot, but soft tissue damage, whiplash, and migraine disorders don’t show up on X-rays or your skin.

The best way to deal with the damage from whiplash is to catch and treat the condition early. But the pain and other symptoms, including dizziness and headaches, don’t always show up immediately following an accident.

By visiting your chiropractor as soon as possible after you’ve been released by the hospital or your primary care doctor, you can begin the healing process on any injuries that may not rear their ugly heads until later, making your recovery period faster and getting you back to work and your normal activities with less interruption.

Reduces Inflammation & Scar Tissue

A car accident can lead to micro tears in your muscles and ligaments which, if left untreated, can develop scar tissue.

Micro tears and the inflammation that comes from them is one of the main reason you wake up a day or two later in excruciating pain. And the scar tissue causes stiffness and difficulty moving, leaving you hobbling and adapting all your activities.

Chiropractic can help loosen any scar tissue and repair the micro tears, decreasing your pain and inflammation. Repairing the damage also leads to improved healing times, giving you your life back.

Non-Invasive Treatment

When it comes to back, shoulder, and hip pain from car accidents, many people find their doctors recommend surgery as a way to fix their injuries and get them back to work or sports more quickly.

However, with surgery come risks, the need for medications, recovery time, more pain, and the risk that the procedure doesn’t work.

By seeking treatment with a chiropractor shortly after your car accident, you can catch the injuries faster and possibly heal them more quickly and without the need for surgery.

Drug-Free Pain Relief

Many people with pain from car accident injuries turn to medications – over the counter and prescription – for relief.

Depending on the severity of pain, this can lead some patients to opioids or other addictive medications, increasing their potential complications following an accident. Additionally, new medications bring new potential side effects, which could make you feel worse than dealing with the pain alone.

Rather than just hiding the pain with medicine, however, chiropractic care treats the source of the pain. This leads to actual, real healing instead of just covering up the symptom of the injury.

Chiropractic care is safer than relying on pain medication and more effective long-term.

Improves Chances of a Successful Claim

If you were in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, whether or not you get paid for your medical bills, property damage, and other pain and suffering is entirely up to the other driver’s insurance company.

By seeing your chiropractor right away, you can establish medical care, no matter how minor your injuries.

If you wait until you experience pain or symptoms, you may decrease your chances of receiving compensation because your symptoms become more difficult to relate to your accident. This leads to denial of claims and means you get less money or, in extreme cases, none.

Even if you aren’t in pain immediately after your accident, pay your chiropractor a visit to get an adjustment. If you have unseen injuries, you’re getting treatment early and making your outcomes better in the long run.

What Car Accident Injuries Can a Chiropractor Help with?

Your chiropractor can help decrease pain, increase mobility, and release tension from a variety of musculo-skeletal injuries, including:

  • Lower back pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches & migraines
  • Hip pain
  • Dizziness
  • Knee pain
  • Sciatica pain
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Leg & foot numbness
  • Whiplash
  • Arm pain

What Is Involved with Chiropractic Care for Car Accidents?

Chiropractic care following a car accident isn’t a one-and-done solution; it’s a process of care that requires evaluation, a treatment plan, and regular treatment that tapers off over time.

Evaluation & Treatment Plan

The first step of chiropractic care after your car accident is an initial consultation and evaluation of your injuries. This process also includes a medical history to determine if there are any underlying conditions that could impact your treatment.

Your chiropractor will ask you to complete paperwork related to your health history, your car accident, your current level and location of pain, your ability to complete everyday tasks, and your goals for treatment. They may also request your medical records from hospital visits or visits to your primary care doctor related to your accident.

If you had imaging done at the hospital, your chiropractor may not order additional imaging. However, if you didn’t get X-rays taken or your chiropractor wants to see a part of your body that wasn’t X-rayed initially, they may ask you to get more imaging done.

You will then discuss your medical history, your pain, and your goals for chiropractic treatment with your chiropractor. Your chiropractor likely will conduct a physical exam to check for source of pain and stiffness, as well as your current range of motion, so a thorough treatment plan can be developed.

Once your chiropractor has a better idea of the type of treatment you need, they develop a treatment plan that includes the types of adjustment and treatment you’ll receive, how often you will be treated, and any at-home exercises and modifications you need to make.

This treatment plan is like a living road map to get you from your current state of injury and pain to the level of health and well-being you desire.

As you move through your treatment, your chiropractor may revise your treatment plan to better align with your progress, so nothing is set in stone at this stage.

Treatment

This phase of chiropractic care can last from a few weeks to several months, and usually involves frequent adjustments or chiropractic massage.

Your spine will be gently adjusted to release any subluxations that may have occurred following your accident, helping decrease inflammation and pain in your muscle and surrounding tissue and allow you to begin healing. Damaged tissue and muscle begins to develop scarring, which needs to be properly be released so blood can flow to those tissues and muscle fibers again, allowing them to heal.

At first, your chiropractor may want to see you frequently, perhaps a few times a week, while your injuries are still healing. As you get better and regain more movement, your treatment frequency will decrease to once a week or less.

Maintenance

Once you have reached your maximum healing potential and achieved your treatment goals, your chiropractor will decrease the frequency of your treatment to once a month or only as you feel it’s necessary.

Ongoing chiropractic care is important to keep bones, muscles, and tissue in good health and preserve your feelings of well-being.

Does Insurance Cover Chiropractic Care after a Car Accident?

The answer to this question is somewhat complicated.

If both you and the other driver in an accident where you aren’t at fault have good auto insurance, your medical bills likely will be repaid as part of any settlement for your claim. This includes any chiropractic treatment.

However, these bills may not be paid by the insurance settlement for months or even years after your accident, which could lead to them coming due and going into collections if they remain unpaid.

Your own medical insurance also may cover their portion of your chiropractic care, even after a car accident. But whether they will or not is largely dependent upon the specifications of your insurance plan.

If you retain a personal injury attorney for help with your car accident claim, they can advise you the best way to approach your chiropractic bills. Many will work to negotiate holds on sending your bills to collections pending your personal injury settlement.

Need a Chiropractor after a Car Accident? Call Eugene’s #1 Chiropractic Team

At Eugene Family Chiropractic, we offer comprehensive, compassionate chiropractic care for help with injuries that arise from car accidents. Our experienced chiropractic team thoroughly evaluates your injuries, discusses your treatment goals, and creates a full plan of treatment to give you the best possible outcomes. Schedule your appointment today!