Car accidents are awful.
One minute you’re going about your day, and the next you have an unexpected disruption to your life and routine. The impact of the accident on a person’s life varies, largely based on injury severity. Damage to a vehicle is repaired and that part of the ordeal is behind you. Damage to your body can have much more significant impact on your life and the things you are able to do. If injuries are not treated, the functional limitations created by the injuries can last for quite some time, and chronic pain becomes increasingly likely.
Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming, and finding where to turn for help for treating the injuries sustained in an accident can be difficult.
A study published in 2004 examined the prevalence of chronic neck pain after a car accident, and found that 55% of the people in a car accident still experienced neck pain 17 years after the accident.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of injury in the United States according to 2012 data. A study conducted by the CDC demonstrated that “Sprains/strains accounted for 55% of treated and released ED visits, although such injuries were the least likely to result in hospitalization, with 99.6% of patients with sprains/strains treated and released.”
What the data shows is that sprains and strains are very common injuries from car accidents, but the hospital is not the place to go for treatment of sprains and strains. Typical treatment administered at the emergency department is brief evaluation and prescription for 800 mg ibuprofen and a muscle relaxer. The prescriptions can help alleviate some of the pain in the short term, but do nothing to address the cause of the pain.
Whiplash injuries occur due to the rapid hyperflexion and hyperextension that occurs at the neck from the force of the collision. The sudden movement places stress on the structures that provide stability to our neck and causes injury to those tissues.
Pain following an accident is most often caused by injury to muscles, tendons, and ligaments, otherwise known as strains and sprains. The most commonly injured area in an accident is the neck which can be referred to as whiplash associated disorder or just whiplash. Sprained ligaments and strained muscles can occur anywhere in the body following an accident, and the pain caused by those injuries can range from barely noticeable to severe. Even seemingly minor injuries may lead to chronic issues if not evaluated and treated.
Injuries tend to be more severe in higher speed collisions, but studies have found that significant injuries still occur in collisions that occur at 5-10 miles per hour. A 2021 review of traffic accident data found that vehicle speed and damage to a vehicle are poor predictors of injury. People involved in low speed collisions tend to minimize their injuries, but the available data shows that ignoring injuries sustained in a collision puts the individual at risk for chronic pain.
Regardless of the severity of car accident injuries, chiropractic care can help. The chiropractors at Premier Care are trained in and specialize in evaluating and treating musculoskeletal injuries like sprains and strains.
Chiropractic care changes based on the type and severity of the injuries, but will typically involve addressing muscle tension and tenderness, assessing and working to restore proper joint motion, and rehabilitation exercises to help restore muscle strength and functional ability that was lost due to injury. Often, chiropractic care is coupled with massage and acupuncture to help improve recovery time and decrease pain as quickly as possible.
Treatment after a car accident typically begins with passive modalities like massage, acupuncture, and gentle joint mobilization in the acute phase of care. The period of passive care varies for each individual and care will not progress to active rehabilitation until the risk of symptom regression is minimal.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, schedule an appointment to find out more about how chiropractic care can help you. For Oregon drivers, evaluation and treatment is 100% covered by insurance.