November Newsletter: It's always a good idea to visit your chiropractor after an auto accident

Woman has her spine adjusted

It's Always a Good Idea to Visit Your Chiropractor After an Auto Accident

Are you dealing with a few aches and pains after a motor vehicle accident? It's not unusual to develop a few aches and pains after an accident. Luckily, a visit to your chiropractor can ease your pain and reduce your recovery time.

How Accidents Affect Your Body

Strong forces exerted on your body cause injuries during car accidents. When your car suddenly decelerates from 60 mph to 0 after hitting another car or a tree, you may be thrown against the side of the car or hit your head against the dashboard. Although your seatbelt helps protect you from serious injury, it doesn't keep your body completely still during an impact. Unfortunately, injuries occur at any speed and aren't limited to high-speed crashes.

The abrupt change in movement during a crash strains muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons and may even alter the alignment of the vertebrae in your neck and spine.

A car accident triggers your fight-or-flight response and floods your body with adrenaline, a hormone that gives you extra energy to deal with dangerous situations. Thanks to the effects of adrenaline coursing through your body, you may not feel any pain at first. A few hours or days later, you might begin to notice a nagging pain and stiffness in your neck or back.

Using Chiropractic to Combat Pain

Chiropractic treatment eases pain and stiffness and improves range of motion, mobility, and flexibility. Treatments are designed to:

  • Relieve Pain. Chiropractic treatments increase your body's output of hormones that reduce pain. Spinal manipulation, massage, and other therapies help your body release endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin, and other natural painkillers. Treatments also help reduce painful muscle spasms common after accidents.
  • Improve Spinal Alignment. Your chiropractor uses spinal manipulation to realign your spine after an accident. The treatment involves quick thrusts that move the vertebrae back into their natural position. Spinal manipulation improves circulation, relieves pain, helps your body heal, and eases pressure on joints, nerves, muscles, and soft tissues.
  • Reduce Inflammation. Inflammation helps your body repair itself after an injury, but can also lead to increased pain and stiffness if it continues for too long. Chiropractic treatments may decrease the production of cytokines, proteins that play an important role in inflammation.
  • Break Up Scar Tissue. Scars not only form from cuts in your skin, but also on tissues deep inside your body. Scar tissue can make your joints or muscles feel tight, cause pain, and limit your ability to move your body easily. Treatments like massage and soft-tissue mobilization break up scar tissue before it can make you miserable.

Whiplash and Chiropractic

Whiplash, a painful injury that affects the neck, is a common motor vehicle accident injury. During the collision, your neck whips back and forth or from side to side. The motion may cause misalignments in your vertebrae and damage tissues, muscles, and ligaments. In some cases, whiplash can injure the rubbery discs that cushion your vertebrae.

Massage, spinal manipulation, soft tissue mobilization, ultrasound, and other therapies help injured tissues heal after whiplash and relieve pain, numbness, tingling and headaches, while improving range of motion.

Although chiropractic treatment is most beneficial immediately after an accident, the therapies your doctor uses could help reduce your symptoms even it's been months or years since your accident.

A case report published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine examined the benefits of chiropractic for a patient who had been injured in an accident three years prior. After treatment, she reported improvements in pain and quality of life and was finally able to stop taking opioids.

Have you been in a car accident? Make your appointment with the chiropractor today.

Sources:

Johns Hopkins Medicine: The Science of Addiction

Journal of Chiropractic Medicine: Chiropractic Management of a Patient With Chronic Pain in a Federally Qualified Health Center: A Case Report, 6/2018

Mayo Clinic: Whiplash

Spine Universe: Whiplash: 5 Things You Should Know

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