Last Updated on June 6, 2023


Chiropractic Care and Car Accident Recovery – What Happens to the Body After an Accident

Chiropractic Care and Car Accident Recovery - What Happens to the Body After an Accident
If you’ve ever been in an automobile accident, then you are aware that they can be both incredibly serious, or seemingly benign.

Approximately 5.25 million car accidents occur across the US every year, which equates to about 1 car accident every 60 seconds. While the severity of these accidents may vary, there is ultimately always an effect on the human body during or following a car accident, even in a simple fender bender.

Fortunately, whether the effects of a car collision appear immediately, or sometime after the accident, chiropractic care can help.

Here are some of the injuries or effects that can result from a car collision, and how our Irvine chiropractic care can help speed your recovery and decrease or eliminate your pain.

Shoulder or Collar Bone Pain

What Happens:

Due to the impact that can occur as the result of an auto accident, it’s not unusual for residual shoulder or collar bone pain to occur, particularly if a seatbelt was located across these areas during the impact.

Car accidents can cause bruising to the shoulder and collarbone, and in severe cases, even fracture or break bones. In the event of all breaks and fractures, medical attention should be sought immediately.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help:

If you’ve been in an auto accident and wore a seatbelt during the impact, you may benefit from seeking out a chiropractor for shoulder pain or collarbone pain. Chiropractic care can provide manual release of tension to the surrounding areas, as well as to the area itself through a variety of different treatment modalities.

Your chiropractor may choose to apply manual tissue release, a classic chiropractic adjustment, or some form of traction to gently release the local area. Depending on the specific circumstance, relief may be perceptible from a single treatment.

Slipped or Misaligned Ribs

What Happens:

The ribs are another part of the body which are often directly affected by impact due to the location of most seatbelts in most cars. If you experience rib pain as the result of an auto accident, it’s likely because of the impact of your body against the seatbelt, or, in some cases, against something else in the car like an airbag, purse, or item that was being held in the lap, etc.

Depending on the severity of the impact, the rib can be forced out of place either externally (contact with an object) or internally (sudden diaphragmatic contraction or expansion). This is a painful sensation that can create radiating pain, soreness, pain to the touch, and even extreme pain and difficulty breathing until the rib is returned to its original location.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help:

Chiropractors can help realign and move slipped ribs back to their original location, providing substantial pain relief. If you’re looking for a chiropractor for rib pain or misalignment, be sure to mention the origin of the pain was an auto accident (if applicable).

This allows your chiropractor to determine whether touching the rib directly is appropriate, or a less invasive technique like manipulation to a nearby area would be more effective and comfortable.

Chronic Back or Neck Pain

What Happens:

In an auto accident, the neck and back are the most common areas of injury. This is because the neck and back tend to absorb much of the impact in an accident, and neither is structurally able to sustain the serious impact that car accidents deliver without detrimental effects.

Often, the impact that causes pain in the back and neck is due to a front or back collision. A collision on the side of the car (t-bone, side-swipe, or some variation of a single-vehicle crash) can cause lateral neck and back pain.

Back and neck pain from a car accident can be caused by sudden subluxation (misalignment), compressed or inflamed nerves, strained or overly-tense muscles, or breaks and fractures. Any fractured or broken bones should be treated by a medical professional immediately.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help:

If you decide to visit a chiropractor for back pain and neck pain, consider disclosing the details of the car crash to them. This will allow them to understand the angle at which the impact occurred on your body, which can help them determine how to best treat your pain.

A chiropractor for neck pain and back pain will first complete a thorough assessment to determine if you experienced misalignment as a result of the auto accident, or if any pre-existing subluxation of your joints was worsened by the impact.

Once your chiropractor understands the origin of your pain, they will select the best course of treatment for you. This may include spinal traction, adjustments, manual tissue manipulation, scar tissue therapy, physical therapy, and a number of additional potential treatments.

Herniated Disc

What Happens:

A herniated disc occurs in the spine when the soft part of the inner spinal cord is dislodged. When this occurs, the soft tissue (referred to as a “disc”) can emerge from the exterior casing where it is usually contained and press on nearby nerves and tissues. This can be extremely painful, resulting in nerve pain, numbness, and weakness in the limbs or back.

A herniated disc can occur as the result of an auto accident when the force of the crash forces a spinal vertebrae into the spinal canal. This can create residual nerve pain in the back (most commonly lower back or neck.)

How Chiropractic Care Can Help:

A chiropractor can provide effective treatment for herniated discs, provided that the herniation is not so severe that it requires surgery.

Chiropractic care can offer pain relief, help return the disc to its original position in the spinal cord, and decrease compression on the nearby nerve bundles that can cause pain, numbness, tingling, etc.

There are several techniques and practices that a chiropractor may employ to provide relief for herniated discs. These include hands-on manipulation, traction, light or sound therapy, movement exercises, and more.

Ankle, Knee, or Foot Pain

What Happens:

Sometimes, the ankles, feet, and knees can be injured as a result of a car or motorcycle accident. Excluding fractures and breaks, chiropractic care can help provide relief for ankle, knee, or foot pain resulting from an auto accident.

These types of injuries vary widely—they may include sprains and strains, nerve pain, inflammation, weakness in the area or surrounding area, numbness or tingling, etc.

What happens in a car accident when the ankle, feet, and knees are injured is usually the result of a severe impact to the extent that the interior of the car was crushed, or the ankle, feet, and knee areas were exposed while driving (common when operating a motorcycle). When impact strikes these areas, it can create long-lasting soreness and pain.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help:

Your chiropractor for foot pain, ankle pain, or knee pain will analyze the area to determine the origin of the pain. Oftentimes, this is due to inflammation (the result of injury), and in some cases, misalignment due to impact. Your chiropractor can adjust the area as necessary and provide treatment based on the cause of the pain.

Chronic Migraines

What Happens:

After a car accident, it is possible to begin experiencing headaches and migraines even days and weeks following the experience. If you experience a persistent headache following an auto accident, it’s important to seek medical care immediately: brain damage, concussions, and local fractures can all manifest in the form of a headache and migraine.

If your medical professional has confirmed that there is no brain damage or other underlying concern present, then it is possible that your headache is the result of a pinched nerve, stress, trauma, whiplash, muscle strain, or exhaustion. Each of these conditions can be treated by a chiropractor to help ease your pain, provide stress relief, and encourage healing and recovery.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help:

If you visit a chiropractor for migraines and headaches, ensure that you have first confirmed there is no underlying brain injury resulting from the auto accident. Your expert chiropractor will then determine the appropriate form of treatment based on your symptoms, where you are experiencing pain, the severity of the pain, and any global physical issues that may be exacerbating your discomfort.

Chiropractic care for migraines often begins with realignment and correction of subluxation of the joints. When subluxation and misalignment are corrected, migraines and chronic headaches may abate or disappear significantly.

The restoration of nerve connections throughout the neck, head, and spine helps to facilitate the increase of energy flow and function of the body systems. While it is still not completely clear what causes migraines (outside of various external triggers), research shows that chiropractic care can provide long-term relief.

Whiplash and Misalignment

What Happens:

During the impact of an auto accident, the head and neck can violently be thrust sideways, forwards, or backward. This can cause joints to experience subluxation (misalignment), cause bruising, straining, and a number of other injuries.

After seeking medical attention to evaluate the severity of the injuries, you may still experience pain, soreness, and other symptoms as the result of whiplash and misalignment. A chiropractor for whiplash and misalignment can help to reduce the pain and symptoms associated with the injury by providing customized treatment for your needs.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help:

Whiplash and misalignment are effectively treated by chiropractic care once the root cause of the symptoms and pain is understood. Your chiropractor will conduct a complete assessment to determine what in the neck and spinal column has been injured and then provide the appropriate treatment.

This treatment may include traction to realign vertebrae and joints, adjustments to restore nerve connection and energy flow (as well as boost circulation), and prescribed exercises to supplement the care that can be conducted at home.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, or still feel residual pain after a seemingly minor (or severe) crash, chiropractic care can help.

Zen Care Physical Medicine of Irvine, CA is proud to offer top-tier chiropractic care from a team of expert Irvine chiropractors and medical professionals. Whether you are local to Irvine or a resident of Costa Mesa, Tustin, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Laguna Hills, or any of the nearby Southern California cities, Zen Care Physical Medicine is your premiere back pain and auto accident resource to help get you back on your feet and feeling your best. We take pride in our personalized, attentive, and expert care, and believe that quality of life makes all the difference. If you’re ready to improve yours, book your appointment today!

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