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Are Chiropractic Adjustments Safe After A Car Accident?

Usually, Yes.
But, of course, your chiropractor is evaluating your injuries to ascertain the answer to that. The doctor will conduct a history of your injuries to determine what injuries you may have suffered, then do an examination to try to provoke pain and determine your diagnoses, and then decide whether you need diagnostic imaging such as x-rays or an MRI scan or CT scan. All of this data will be considered before you receive a chiropractic adjustment.

As with all medical treatments, there are indications, and contraindications to chiropractic treatments, including chiropractic adjustments. And your chiropractor is determining if, and when, chiropractic adjustments are safe after your car accident.

Additionally, there are occasions when your chiropractor will decide that you need another medical specialist’s opinion about your injuries, diagnoses, appropriate diagnostic testing, and other indicated treatments, such as medications, injections, and surgery.

Should I Get a Chiropractic Adjustment After My Car Accident?

Chiropractic adjustments vary considerably in the amount of force applied by the doctor. Some are very gentle, others are very quick, none should be very painful.

However, after a traumatic car accident, there will be an inflammatory response of the body. This is a complicated chemical process of the body that includes redness, swelling, heat, pain, and loss of function. And the inflamed, and injured tissues will be painful to move, even if the movement has a longer term benefit.

Nonetheless, treatment is should not be unduly painful for the patient. And, usually, it is not.

The purpose of the chiropractic adjustment, and other treatments, is to move the repairing tissues in a normal way, as soon as possible. This tells the body how to heal so that the eventual outcome is optimal, functional and painless.

These movements of the tissues can be both passive and active, meaning that the tissues should be moved by the patient, and can also be moved by the doctor. That is what chiropractic adjustments are intended to accomplish.

How do chiropractors determine if chiropractic adjustments are suitable for patients specific injuries?

Chiropractors do an initial assessment, and continue to assess your progress at every visit. This will include data from your history, physical examination, diagnostic imaging, observations of your movements, etc.

The diagnoses, and their severity, will determine if, and when, to do adjustments, and how to do them. Certain diagnoses will contraindicate adjustments, such as fractures and dislocations. But most diagnoses are indications for a trial of adjustments, or manipulative treatment.

The patient’s response to an adjustment is an important criterion to consider at each visit. And, while a patient may have an immediate response to an adjustment, e.g. perhaps mild discomfort, the longer-term
response to the adjusting, e.g. from session to session, is the more important indicator for treatment.

Of course, patients should also express their thoughts and feelings about what they do, or don’t, want. There are many ways for chiropractors to treat patients, including, and excluding chiropractic adjustments.

What safety measures do chiropractors take when performing adjustments on accident victims?

The initial assessment of the patient’s injuries will serve to reveal whether adjustments are safe or not. This will include a history of the injuries, a physical examination to ascertain the injuries, the diagnoses, and the severity of injuries. It may also include diagnostic imaging such as x-rays or MRI scans. Initial trials of treatment should also start gently and evaluate the patient’s response, immediately, and between treatment sessions.

For example, if you have a neck injury, initial treatments will probably include passive modalities and gentle palpation to gauge the tenderness and severity of your injuries. Adjustments, when they are started, will generally be slowly progressive, in order to not “overdo it”, before your injured tissues are ready.

From professional experience, the doctor will know if your clinical presentation is within the normal range, or if there is some reason to be more concerned about your status, and, perhaps refer you for diagnostic testing, or to another medical specialist for consultation.

How long does it take to see results from chiropractic adjustments after a car accident?

Patients should see improvements in their pain and function within the first week or two. That is normal. Occasionally, patients report that they are not sure if they are improving. That will require the doctor to delve deeper into details about the patient. Are they moving better, doing more things, sleeping better, returning to more of their normal demands?

These things may be improving even when the patient is still feeling pain. Sometimes these questions will make a patient realize that they are, in fact, improving, and getting better. And that makes them feel better.

Rarely, a patient is not improving, and this requires critical reassessment. The doctor will have to decide if some other diagnostic study needs to be done, if the treatment approach needs to be changed, or if the patient needs referral for a second opinion from another medical specialist.

What can I expect during a chiropractic adjustment session after a car accident?

After your car accident, the chiropractor will do a thorough evaluation to determine what kind of treatment to do for you, and when to start treatment. And your response to the first treatment will be evaluated and influence the progression of your treatment.

Your diagnoses will determine what treatments are administered to you. Typically, treatments will start with gentle kinds of passive modalities, e.g ice, electrical stimulation, soft-tissue mobilization, traction, cryotherapy, and mild chiropractic adjustments. As you receive these treatments, the doctor is assessing your immediate, and subsequent responses to the treatment. This informs the doctors decision making about the progression of your treatments, and which treatments to change, and how quickly to progress with your treatments.

It also influences the frequency and duration of your overall treatment.

You can expect to feel comfortable with treatment, and relief of your pain, progressively, with your treatment sessions. Sometimes, because your injuries are inflamed, you may experience some pain, intermittently, during treatments, because inflammation causes pain, and any movement can cause some mild, transient pain, but overall, you should feel improvement in a progressive manner.

Chiropractic Adjustments vs. Traditional Medical Treatments: A Comparative Analysis

Chiropractors and medical providers and physical therapists have many treatments in common. And all of them use a common diagnostic and treatment procedure manual. But there are significant differences too, between professions and individual providers.

Medical providers will typically prescribe medications to include anti-inflammotories, muscle relaxers, and, now, less frequently, narcotic pain medications. They may also provide a variety of injections. Some are intra-muscular, i.e. in your muscles, for acute injury pain, for their systemic benefit. Other injections are more specific, designed to improve pain or inflammation in a specific place, e.g. a joint, or near a nerve root. Sometimes there are a great benefit, but most patients will not need either.

When the pain is not too severe, there is a benefit to not using medications, because the pain is informative of the severity of, and improvement of, your injuries.

Chiropractors rely entirely upon physical medicine treatments to improve your injuries. (Well, actually, both professions rely upon your body’s innate healing ability). The objective with chiropractic treatments is to improve the shortcomings of your innate healing, by informedly intervening in this process. Enhancing treatments include pain-relieving passive modalites, physical movements (both passive and active), and instruction in your injuries so that you can better manage the demands you impose on your injuries in the context of healing.

Most patients from car accidents will not need, nor do they desire to take, medications. But this is an issue specific to each patient. Medications can have therapeutic benefits, and chiropractors respect their utility, when indicated.

Identifying An Appropriate Chiropractor

For all doctors, experience matters a great deal. More experienced doctors have seen more variety of injuries, diagnostic testing results, treatment methods, and treatment outcomes. So I encourage patients to seek a chiropractor with much experience. A young doctor can be good and caring, but should gain some years of experience under the tutelage and supervision of an older doctor(s). There is considerable enrichment that is acquired in a more real-world clinical setting vs. the school’s clinical setting.

In addition, if you had an auto accident, it’s best to seek treatment from a chiropractor with experience in auto accident injury patients, specifically. And many chiropractors have additional post-graduate training in auto accident related injuries and treatment, so that is something else you can seek. If you have questions about a particular chiropractor you can go to his/her website and/or call their office to inquire about their experience and training in auto accident injuries.

What are some Real Experiences with Chiropractic Care After Accidents?

As a chiropractor since 1987, and having practiced in a busy, orthopedic, physical medicine, and physical therapy clinic for 18 years, I have participated in the treatment of more than 40,000 patients, and most of those were auto accident patients. So I can share many interesting stories of accident histories, injuries, treatments, diagnostic results, fine recovery, unfortunate chronic pain in other circumstances, and more.

Some of the more memorable real experiences are the more unfortunate ones. That is not something I think is constructive to share, in details. But I will say that the whole of my professional experience has been a profoundly humbling, enriching, and poignant privilege. I remain deeply touched that the mission of medicine, doctors, and healthcare to allay human suffering is the most sacred I can contemplate. And I am deeply grateful to the patients I have been honored to attend to over the course of my career. My reflexion upon that idea never fails to move me to tears. It is extremely corny, perhaps, and extremely true.

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs )

Who pays for your chiropractic care after your auto accident?

Answer: Most patients who see a chiropractor after an auto accident have been injured by another driver who is at-fault in the auto accident. In that circumstance, the patient has a legal claim against the driver’s insurance company. Usually, though not always, the patient will also have an attorney who represents their tort claim interest.
It is customary for patients in such scenarios to receive treatments from the chiropractor on a lien basis. That means that the chiropractor will agree to treat the patient and await payment until the patient’s legal claim is settled with the other insurance company. This can take months to years to settle, and the chiropractor will not expect payment from the patient until then. Some other patients will have a medical payment provision on their own auto insurance policy and this may pay for the patient’s treatment, before the other insurance company settles with the patient. In either case the patient will not pay for treatment.
However, it should be noted, that, ultimately, the patient is held legally responsible to pay their treatment invoice, in the event that the insurance company does not pay the chiropractor.

Who should not get a chiropractic adjustment?

Answer: All patients must be informed and consent to treatment. Beyond that, the real answer has to do with, “what” should not get a chiropractic adjustment, not “who” should not get a chiropractic adjustment.
The patients “who” should not get a chiropractic adjustment are those with fractures, i.e. broken bones, dislocations, tumors, cancers, infections, very severe osteoporosis, and instabiliities. These are uncommon pathologies, and your chiropractor is mindful of these entities, so that you are not harmed.
Beyond these contraindications, there are some patients who think they have one problem, but, in fact, have another problem that has yet to be diagnosed.
This is why it is very important that you and your chiropractor make sure you are improving from treatment in a relatively fast time frame. The most common reason for chiropractors to get into a malpractice case is when they treat a patient for too long who is not improving, because the patient has an undetected disease, e.g. cancer and it is neglected to the detriment of the patient.

Are there any risks associated with chiropractic adjustments after a car accident?

Answer: Yes, there are risks, if the chiropractic adjustment is contraindicated to perform. There are risks from all treatments of any kind, and the chiropractic adjustment is likewise. For every treatment, there are risks/benefit ratios to be considered, and there are indications and contraindications to treatment.
The specific contraindications to chiropractic adjustments are fractures, dislocations, infections, tumors, cancers, very severe osteoporosis, and instabilities. Fortunately, these are uncommon occurrences even after an auto accident. And these are among the problems that are being considered in your doctor’s evaluation of your injuries.
Absent these contraindications, there is very little risk in chiropractic adjustments. This is reflected in the very low malpractice insurance premiums paid by chiropractic physicians.

How long after a car accident should I wait before getting chiropractic adjustments?

Answer: This is a judgement call, and varies widely because of the severity of injuries, the type of chiropractic adjustment you receive, and the force involved in the chiropractic adjustments. Your chiropractor will use a method of adjusting that he/she thinks is appropriate for your injuries at a given time. Some chiropractic adjustments are as mild as a moderate touch. Other adjustments may involve a quick manipulation.
If you are concerned about this question, make sure to discuss it explicitly with your chiropractor. Generally, if you’re anxious about this issue, your chiropractor will respect your concern, and wait until you are comfortable with trying the adjustment. Most patients will find the chiropractic adjustment to be comfortable, and relieving of their pain. As with all of medical and chiropractic treatment, you should always have clear, freely-spoken discussions with your doctor.

Can chiropractic adjustments after a car accident make my injuries worse?

Answer: All healthcare treatments must be evaluated in the context of their risk/benefit. That includes the chiropractic adjustment. There are contraindications to the chiropractic adjustment. These include fractures, dislocations, tumors, cancers, infections, very severe osteoporosis, and instabilities. So in these circumstances, yes, a chiropractic adjustment after a car accident can make your injuries worse.
Fortunately, the above contraindications to chiropractic adjustments are rare, and reasonably easy to evaluate before any such treatment is administered to a patient. In the rare circumstance where treatment is erringly rendered despite such contraindications, the human body and spine are quite forgiving, and the error will usually be found without harm. But these matters are taken very seriously and your doctor will take every reasonable measure to prevent this.

Choose Backstrong Non Surgical Rehab Clinic – Decatur Georgia – Dr. Craig Castanet D.C

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Dr. Craig Castanet is a 35+ years experienced Car Accident Chiropractor Decatur GA. He is owner of Backstrong Non Surgical Rehab Clinic & our office location is 2771 Lawrenceville Hwy #101, Decatur, GA 30033.

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