According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), automobile accidents are one of the leading causes of injury in America, sending more than 2.5 million people to the emergency room in 2012. In addition to the pain and suffering they cause, these injuries carry an enormous financial cost: $1.8 billion in lifetime medical costs, and $33 billion in lost earnings.
With the jarring force common in auto accidents, these injury statistics aren’t surprising. After all, the human body is comprised of many fragile tissues, making it highly susceptible to injury, even after a minor accident. The most common issues following a motor vehicle accident are whiplash and spinal injuries.
The Siren Call of Prescription Pain Meds
For many accident victims, the go-to response to their injuries is prescription pain medication. This is not surprising, especially if you’ve spent even 30 minutes watching television, where every third commercial seems to advertise the latest wonder drug. That isn’t to say that there’s never a situation that calls for medication, only that, in our hurry to medicate the symptoms of pain, we often fail to address its cause.
The pain patients experience after whiplash or spinal injury is very real, and it has a real cause. You may be able to mask most of it with pain medication, but you won’t restore mobility or cure the issue causing the pain. That means that, as soon as the patient stops taking his or her pain meds, the pain returns.
The Dangers of Prescription Pain Medication
Pain medication also carries a number of dangerous side effects, particularly the risk of addiction. America is currently battling a severe opioid epidemic, due in large part to Western medicine’s love of prescription pain relief.
A report released by the CDC in December of 2016 states that opioid death rates skyrocketed over 72 percent from 2014 to 2015, with heroin death rates jumping 20.6 percent. This is due to the tragic fact that, once physicians stop prescribing pain meds, addicted patients find heroin a much cheaper alternative.
A holistic approach to treating pain that includes chiropractic care and prescribed exercises relieves and even eliminates the pain of whiplash and back injuries while treating the cause, all without risk of addiction.
Treating Whiplash with Chiropractic Care
Whiplash is a neck injury often sustained after an accident, since the sudden acceleration-deceleration force common in auto accidents often causes your neck to stretch beyond its normal limits. This may cause the ligaments and muscles supporting your head and spine to become torn or overstretched.
Even a minor car accident may cause whiplash. This is because the bones of the spine are cushioned by soft, pulpy discs susceptible to rupturing and bulging, pushing the vertebrae out of the normal position. Symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, blurred vision, shoulder pain, headaches, neck stiffness, reduced range of motion, and lower back pain.
Whiplash affects bones, connective tissue, muscles, and nerves. Your chiropractor is an expert in treating these areas, using spinal manipulation and prescribed exercises to treat symptoms. Two common exercises are:
- McKenzie exercises: These exercises help reduce disc derangement sustained in a whiplash injury. Your chiropractor will guide you through performing basic exercises, which you then perform at home.
- Sensorimotor and stabilization exercises: These exercises help fix faulty movement patterns in everyday life.
Performing these exercises helps train your nervous system to control and coordinate movement patterns while also strengthening your neck muscles for improved stability.
Treating Back Pain with Chiropractic Care
After an accident, displacement of discs, joints, nerves, or bones may occur anywhere in the spine, leading to pain and a debilitating condition that worsens over time. Patients also experience the emotional impact of living with chronic pain, and increased likelihood of additional injury due to their pain and limitations in range of motion.
These injuries may occur after even a minor accident. Your chiropractor performs adjustments that help relieve pain and repair the misalignment or displacement causing it. Chiropractic adjustment is especially effective in treating disc slippage and eliminates pain without the need for surgery or medication.
You may also experience pain due to inflammation, which is often the biggest culprit behind pain after an accident. In addition to chiropractic treatment, you can treat inflammation by drinking plenty of water to flush the chemicals released by the inflamed tissues and applying ice to the affected area. Your chiropractor may also recommend low-level laser therapy that penetrates the tissue to reduce inflammation.
Why You Should Visit the Chiropractor Early
Unlike cuts, bruises, and broken bones, internal injuries such as whiplash and back injuries aren’t obvious. In addition, you often don’t experience the symptoms until days or even weeks after the accident. In fact, in the immediate aftermath of an accident, you often feel no pain thanks to the adrenaline coursing through your body.
When you visit a chiropractor right away, you avoid weeks of pain and get a jumpstart on your recovery process. You also help reduce the risk of a chronic condition or long-term damage. Both back pain and whiplash may last for years if left untreated.
Prompt Chiropractic Care Supports Your Insurance Claims
You probably aren’t thinking about your insurance claim in the immediate aftermath of an accident, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need to make one.
The reality is that claims of internal pain, especially back and whiplash injuries, are notoriously difficult to prove. It doesn’t help that whiplash, in particular, has a history and reputation for fraudulent claims. This history dates back to before the injury was even known as whiplash, when it was still called “railway spine” due to people suffering whiplash after train accidents. Even then there were people making legitimate claims as well as fraudsters looking to make a quick buck.
With this long history, it’s no surprise that insurance companies, which rely on proof, often question whiplash and back pain claims. The sooner you visit a chiropractor after an accident, the easier it is to prove that your injuries were sustained in that crash and not at some later date.
Seeking prompt chiropractic care offers a wide variety of benefits, including ending your pain (sometimes before it even begins), treating your symptoms as well as their cause, avoiding harmful and addictive pain killers, and helping to prove your injuries to the insurance company. If you were involved in an automobile accident, don’t take chances. Even a minor accident may lead to chronic pain, so schedule a chiropractic consultation sooner rather than later.
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