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How Can a Chiropractor Help You After a Car Crash?

A man after a car crash with neck pain because of whiplash

Whiplash associated disorders is a term used to characterize the constellation of signs and symptoms that commonly result from the rapid acceleration and deceleration of the head and neck, most often from car crashes. Whether from the recommendation of a friend, family member, or personal injury attorney or from a self-referral after other treatment approaches fail to yield a satisfactory result, many whiplash patients may find themselves visiting a chiropractic office.

When the patient first arrives, they will be greeted and asked to complete paperwork regarding their motor vehicle collision including immediate and delayed symptom onset, road/weather conditions, and collision specifics (speed, direction of impact, multiple impacts, head position at time of impact, airbag deployment, size of vehicles involved, and more). They may also be asked to note on a drawing of the human body where they feel pain (a pain diagram) and fill out questionnaires regarding musculoskeletal and mood symptoms, as well as their personal health and family history.

The data provided by the patient will guide the physical examination. This may include an evaluation of posture from a standing position focused on the occiput (skull), shoulders, iliac crests (pelvis), the hip/knee/ankle/foot angles; from the side to evaluate forward head posture, shoulder protraction, sway or arched low back, hip/knee/ankle position; and a gait analysis, looking for asymmetrical movement patterns. Each area of complaint will undergo palpation (touch sensitivity, heat/pain), range of motion, pain provocation and reducing tests, and a neurological examination. If warranted, the chiropractor may order X-rays and/or advanced imaging (like an MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound).

The treatment plan will be tailored to the patient’s unique case but will likely be multimodal in nature and include manual therapies (manipulation, mobilization, myofascial release, etc.) and physio-therapeutic modalities (electric stim, ultrasound, laser, cervical traction, dry needling/acupuncture, etc.) provided in the office along with at-home exercise, ice instruction, and recommendations to carry out usual activities within reasonable pain boundaries.

The frequency of visits can vary, but it’s common for patients to be seen more frequently initially with the number of visits per week reduced over time. The patient’s progress will be monitored until they achieve the maximum possible improvement. If the patient does not respond well to treatment, the chiropractor may alter their approach and/or refer the patient to an allied healthcare provider to perform services outside their scope of care. The good news is that whiplash patients often respond well to chiropractic treatment!

Thousands of Doctors of Chiropractic across the United States and Canada have taken "The ChiroTrust Pledge":

“To the best of my ability, I agree toprovide my patients convenient, affordable,and mainstream Chiropractic care.I will not use unnecessary long-termtreatment plans and/or therapies.”

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