Soft-tissue injuries can take a long time to heal. One study found that more than 70 percent of people who visited the emergency room after a car accident were still in pain six weeks later. Other researchers have noted that nearly half of whiplash sufferers continue to experience symptoms three months later, while 25 percent remain symptomatic for six months.
Without proper treatment, some injuries can continue to cause pain for years. As soft tissue injuries heal, they develop scar tissue. If the spine is not aligned and full range of motion isn’t recovered before scarring sets in, it can ultimately inhibit normal functioning and even lead to spinal degeneration.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained during car accidents. Nearly 300,000 whiplash injuries occur each year, many at low speeds. It takes only a 2.5 mile-per-hour change in speed to injure the neck.
Although half of all these injuries are the result of rear collisions, they can occur from an impact in any direction. Frontal crashes account for 30 percent of motor vehicle neck injuries.
When a part of the body is whipped back and then forward beyond its normal limits, micro-tears can develop in the surrounding ligaments. Yet many accident victims don’t notice any pain at first. It’s not until the micro-tears start to swell that the symptoms set in, including:
- Blurred vision
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Reduced range of motion in the neck
- Arm pain
- Neck stiffness
- Low back pain
How Chiropractic Care Helps
Because a chiropractic school curriculum teaches students how to treat back and neck pain without pharmaceutical help, a doctor of chiropractic is uniquely positioned to help car accident victims avoid the prescription drug cycle.
Using a variety of drug-free techniques, from spinal adjustments to electric muscle stimulation to rehabilitative exercises, chiropractors can:
Relieve pain. Soft-tissue injuries may take months to fully heal, but a chiropractor can often provide pain relief much quicker than that. Many car accident victims report up to an 80 percent reduction in discomfort after just a few weeks of chiropractic care.
Restore mobility. The soreness and stiffness from a motor vehicle injury can inhibit movement. Chiropractors work with patients to help get them moving again as quickly as possible so they can regain full range of motion before scar tissue develops.
Support long-term healing. The muscle weakness resulting from a car accident can leave patients vulnerable to re-injury. Chiropractic care often involves rehabilitative exercises that improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine.
Visiting a doctor of chiropractic as soon as possible after an auto accident can boost a patient’s chances of making a full recovery—without resorting to chronic over use of prescription drugs.