Chiropractors provide “physical medicine” treatments to patients. That means physical treatments to patients’ anatomy. The most common of these is the chiropractic adjustment, i.e. manipulation of spinal and appendicular joints. But it also includes a variety of other physical medicine treatments, like electrical stimulation, heat, ice, laser, ultrasound, massage, traction, spinal decompression, and more. These various physical medicine treatments are also provided by other healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists, and physiatrists.
The particular treatments that a patients receives will vary with the provider, the patient, the injury, time of injury, and response to treatment. The purpose of any of these treatments is to reduce pain and restore function to patients.
12 Benefits of Chiropractic Care After Car Accident
1. Evaluate for injury severity:
Most of the time, a car accident will not result in serious injury, including occult injuries. But it does happen sometimes, and you don’t want to miss these injuries. Every chiropractor can remember surprising injuries that arose from car accidents, and the patient was not that symptomatic. So you cannot depend upon pain to reveal serious injuries. This can include fractures, dislocations, and incidental findings like cancer.
2. Determine if referral to other provider is necessary:
Getting examined can reveal myriad types of injuries that require referral to another medical specialist. Referrals can include diagnostic testing or treatment, such as to pain management, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, emergency medicine, neurology, primary care, and more.
3. Determine what diagnostic testing is necessary:
Referral for these can include x-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, electromyography, nerve conduction studies, bone scans, and others. Sometimes incidental findings are found which require referral for evaluation unrelated to the car accident. And this can include diagnostic testing to be determined by other medical specialists.
4. Inform patients of the nature of their injuries:
Determining was is wrong, and what is not, is essential for patients to know as soon as possible. Framing their injuries, their severity, and prognosis is important to allaying the patient’s fears and anxiety. We are treating the patient’s bodily injuries and their psyche’s too. Both are important to recovering after physical injuries. That doesn’t mean false reassurance. But it does mean framing all the data in a thorough manner, and reducing any needless, misinformed anxiety about the prognoses of their injuries.
5. Provide prognosis for recovery from injuries
Patients want to know, what’s wrong, how bad is it, will I recover fully, how long will that take, what can they do to help themselves recover, what should they avoid, and any other data relevant to their optimal recovery from their injuries. The doctor should address all of the injuries, and how each injury is expected to progress in their recovery. Also, the doctor must explain the recommended treatment, its rationale, how quickly they should expect to recover, what will be done if their progress is unsatisfactory, and what other diagnostic testing, referral, and treatment may be done if progress is unsatisfactory.
6. Provide treatment and reduce pain and inflammation from injuries:
Once the diagnoses are determined, the doctor will determine a treatment program with treatments, and their frequency. Reassessment of patient progress and their response to the treatments is done at every visit, and treatments may be revised depending on progress. The global purpose of treatment is to resolve pain and restore normal functioning as soon as possible. Realistic time frames for this vary with the patient, their injuries, biopsychosocial factors, injury severity, and more.
7. Document patient status and progress for medicolegal purposes:
Many patients who are injured in car accidents, have legal claims against another person’s insurance company. These patients typically secure an attorney for legal representation of their claims. The medicolegal arena requires that doctors document all the data relevant to the patient’s injuries, treatment, progress, outcome, work status, and more. These records are sent to the attorney at the conclusion of the patient’s medical treatment, and this is the basis of the demand package which their attorney will eventually send to the insurance company, to begin legal negotiations over a settlement of the case.
8. Restore physical functions to pre-injury status:
That is the objective, and it is usually possible, though not always. Some patients end up with chronic pain from car accidents, even after they have been treated by many medical specialists. In fact, many patients, especially those who are older, have pre-existing, degenerative arthritis, which makes them more likely to suffer worse pain from car accident traumas. And it can take them longer to recover from such injuries.
9. Address work and disability status:
Some patients will lose no time from work after a car accident, but this depends upon when the car accident occurred, how bad are the injuries, what are their work demands, and will their employer accommodate limited work duties. Many patients will miss a few days from work immediately after the car accident, and then be able to return to work. And a small number of patients will miss a protracted amount of work. Rarely, a patient may never be able to return to their previous employment. Work and disability issues have serious legal ramifications, and must be documented thoroughly by the doctor.
10. Document and provide information to all parties as needed:
Car accidents involve many parties, medically and legally. And many of these parties are entitled to the patient information if a lawsuit is filed against an insured’s defendant. Relevant parties can includes the patient, their family, all the doctors involved in providing care, attorneys for the patient and defendant, and more.
11. Explain diagnostic testing and results:
Throughout the patient’s treatment, and depending upon the complexity of the injuries, there may be many doctors involved in treatment, and many diagnostic tests that are performed for evaluation and to guide appropriate treatment. All of these tests need to be explained to the patient’s satisfaction. And this includes the purpose of the testing, what the results mean, and how the tests are relevant to treatment recommendations.
12. Instruct in biomechanics and ergonomics relevant to injuries:
From the first day of evaluation until the patient’s treatment is concluded, and beyond, the doctor should teach the patient how to be as functional as possible without “over-doing it”, and how to do their activities of daily living in the most safe and ergonomic way possible. Most patients do many things in their normal activities that are biomechanically poor, and this is less tolerable after their bodies have been injured. So this information is important and useful now, and in the future.
How Soon Should You See a Chiropractor After a Car Accident?
It’s best to see a doctor within a day or two after an accident, for two broad reasons. The first is medical. Some people will have pain and seek treatment immediately. This is better than waiting because the injuries should be evaluated for safety reasons as soon as possible. Secondly, if you have injuries that arise from someone else’s fault, you need to establish the presence of the injuries, and their causation as soon as possible.
Some well-meaning patients will have injuries and pain, and they will not see a doctor initially, in hopes that their injuries will improve and resolve with time. Sometimes that does happen. Other times, the injuries and pain progresses with time. If the patient doesn’t see a doctor initially, and if they have a medicolegal claim against another person, the defendant’s insurance company will probably be less cooperative in accepting liability for your injuries. So waiting to see a doctor can harm your case.
The other issue with waiting, is that oftentimes, after an accident, and injuries, the patient may not feel much pain. A doctor will examine you to try to provoke pain, and often patients don’t feel the pain of their injuries until a doctor does an examination.
Can children or elderly individuals benefit from chiropractic care after a car accident?
These are two different questions. For children, an evaluation if a good idea, to make sure they don’t have occult injuries. Doctors will examine the child and advise the parent what to look for in proceeding days, after a car accident. Some things to look for are a change in mood, behavior, activity, and complaints. But the doctor can push and prod the child’s body and see if it seems to elicit any particular discomfort. We probably neglect kids a little with injuries because they may not complain or be verbal yet. So we have to look for all sorts of clues as to their status after traumatic events like car accidents.
As for the elderly, they have acquired some degenerative changes to their joints, and they are also weaker than younger adults, so they are more vulnerable to injury from potentially traumatic forces like car accidents. Thankfully, they are verbal, so are likely to volunteer their injuries.
Because of their pre-existing, degenerative joints, and their muscle atrophy, their injuries can be worse, and may require more treatment, and take longer to recover, or may not recover 100%.
Conversely, despite the above, the elderly are not as fragile as they may seem, and they tend to be emotionally tough, so may not complain as much. All of this varies for a variety of reasons, some of which are not assessible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is chiropractic care safe for car accident victims?
Answer: Chiropractic care is very safe compared to all healthcare treatments. The least safe treatment may be neck adjustments, done with short-amplitude and high-force, but which are still relatively safe. Of course, all treatments should be performed thoughtfully and carefully. And if there is some treatment that the patient does not wish to receive, they can decline it. I prefer to eschew neck adjustments, both as a doctor and patient. Apart from that potential caveat, chiropractic care is a very safe method of treatment for patients after car accidents.
Do I need a referral from a medical doctor to see a chiropractor after a car accident?
Answer: Patients do not need a referral from a medical doctor, in order to see a chiropractor. Chiropractors are trained, qualified, and licensed to be direct providers, without an intermediary. Chiropractors are competent and very safe relative to medical providers. In fact, malpractice insurance premiums are surprisingly modest for chiropractors, reflecting their relative safety as healthcare providers. In fact, chiropractors are the most common doctors providing treatment for patients after car accidents. And many doctors do not choose to provide treatment for patients after car accidents, because of the medicolegal demands associated with car accident patients.
Can chiropractic care prevent long-term complications from car accident injuries?
Answer: All competent healthcare treatment, including chiropractic, can prevent long-term problems resulting from car accident injuries. The purpose of treating the traumatic injuries arising from car accidents, is to optimize the healing process, by reducing the pain, and improving the functional abilities of patients as soon as possible after such injuries. So, as soon as possible after injuries, the chiropractor should encourage you to move and do your activities of daily living to the extent that you can. In the olden days we used to encourage rest, and the cessation of normal activities. But it turns out that it is better, for a faster and fuller recovery, that the patient return to normal activities as soon as possible. This excludes very demanding activity, but mundane activities are good. The body’s healing process takes its cues in healing the tissues from the imposed and perceived demands and requirements of your lifestyle.
Chiropractic care will provide pain management as your injuries require, and as your return to normal functioning requires.
Is chiropractic care a long-term commitment, or is it a short-term solution for recovery after an accident?
Answer: Great question. Chiropractors have a reputation for, sometimes, encouraging long-term treatment. But in the context of car accidents, that is rarely the case. Typically, depending upon the nature of the injuries, treatment for car accident patients may last from 2-4 weeks on the short end, to 12 weeks, or more, on the long end. And some patients, after car accidents, will have chronic pain, for which longer treatment is appropriate. But this is a product of the patient’s needs and desires, not the chiropractor’s discretion.
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Dr. Craig Castanet is a 35+ years experienced in chiropractor industry in Decatur GA. He is owner of Backstrong Non Surgical Rehab Clinic & our office location is 2771 Lawrenceville Hwy #101, Decatur, GA 30033. Anytime contact with us using gmail or contact our number.
Backstrong Non Surgical Rehab Clinic.
2771 Lawrenceville Hwy #101, Decatur, GA 30033,
Contact Number: 404-558-4015
Gmail: [email protected]
Dr. Craig Castanet D.C. is a chiropractor specialist & Founder of Backstrong Non-Surgical Rehab Clinic. Our office is located at 2771 Lawrenceville Hwy #101, Decatur, GA 30033. For the last 35+ years he has participated in the treatment of more than 40,000 patients, in orthopedics, physical medicine, physical therapy, and neurosurgical clinics. If you live in the Decatur, Ga area and have neck or back problems, you owe it to yourself to see us for your problem. If you have any question about chiropractic care & Treatment. You can use our contact page or social media profile anytime & we will communicate with you soon.