Should you see a Chiropractor after a Car Accident?
No one wakes up thinking – “I want to get into a car accident today”. Whether it was your fault or not, you should be sure that you seek care for you injuries so that you don’t end up with chronic or permanent disabilities. The question becomes – “Who should I see?”.
Obviously if you suspect you have a fracture, internal bleeding, or you took a hit to the head, you should go to the hospital. Internal bleeding can be very serious, particularly in the brain. Fractures could be small, but unstable, allowing you to walk around with a false sense of security. All doctors would likely require atleast an X-ray after a trauma like a car accident.
Are Chiropractors Qualified?
Chiropractors are trained as “portal of entry” providers. This means that we have been trained to diagnose any patient with any symptom that walks in off the street. We are trained to order imaging, lab work, and perform testing as needed to diagnose any condition.
We are trained to diagnose cancer, fractures, systemic diseases, and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Injuries to the musculoskeletal system (your muscles and joints) are very common, even in low speed car accidents.
In fact, when it comes to disorders of the your muscles and joints(musculoskeletal system), research shows that chiropractors are more capable of passing basic competency tests in diagnosis.
This means that, in general, you’ll have a better shot of getting the correct diagnosis from a chiropractor. Why might that be? Well, we receive little training in drugs or surgery, but we focus many more hours to the muscles and joints of the body.
What should I expect if I see a chiropractor after a car accident?
With over 400 different chiropractic techniques, treatment may vary slightly from doctor to doctor. Every treatment should have these elements in common: a thorough history, a physical examination consisting of vital signs, reflexes, muscle testing, etc, diagnostic testing or imaging as needed, and a treatment plan.
Diagnostic testing or imaging may consist of blood work and x-rays or MRI’s. X-ray’s can help rule out a fracture to determine if it is safe to adjust you. X-rays should always be taken after a significant trauma such as a car accident.
If you have symptoms that might indicate you’ve had some soft tissue injury that might have damaged discs, muscles, or your brain, a chiropractor may order an MRI. Sometimes a doctor or chiropractor may wait to perform expensive tests because in their expert opinion they expect you to get better and it will not change your care or the test might be negative because it might be too soon to see changes.
A typical treatment would consist of an adjustment, physiotheraphy(ice, muscle stimulation, moist heat, soft tissue mobilization, massage, etc), stretching, and exercises(progressively more difficult to restore lost range of motion, fuction, endurance, and strength). A doctor of chiropractic will choose the care plan elements that he feels will best help your particular case. Follow these links to learn about how chiropractors treat back muscle spasms or headaches.
Whatever your Chiropractor’s choice of treatment, the goals are the same – to restore your health as best as possible to the state it was in before the car accident. Many states have special laws regarding healthcare and auto accidents. For help with the special laws, you should contact a knowledgeable lawyer in your area.
Be mindful that any doctor that states they “Specialize in Auto Accidents” or that they are “the best” is likely only stating so to attract patients. There is no advanced degree(called a diplomate) in Auto Accident treatment and such claims are illegal in many states. Such a claim is unethical and induces you to go to their practice. You can report doctors like this to your state Department of Health.