Jess Caruso was about to start her senior year as a psychology major when a drunk driver hit her head-on.
Severe headaches plagued her for the next several years. Physical therapy made little difference in the pain that was ruining her life. Prescription painkillers and muscle relaxers left her addicted and sick.
Then one day she went to the gym, where a chiropractor was performing spinal screenings.
“She absolutely blew my mind,” Caruso says. “She was able to determine all the areas that bothered me most by simply laying her hands on me.”
After a short period of chiropractic care, the pain started to abate and her health started to improve. She later decided to become a chiropractor to help others recover from similar trauma.
“I don’t even want to imagine what my life would be like today if I had continued on the path of endless prescription drugs,” she said.
For car accident victims, who are often left in debilitating pain, a doctor of chiropractic can be a beacon of hope. While many doctors prescribe painkillers as a first line of treatment, chiropractors can help heal even severe motor vehicle injuries without the use of drugs.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained during car accidents—and often one of the hardest to treat. 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 whiplash 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
Soft-tissue injuries like whiplash 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.
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. Some 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 fully recovery—without resorting to prescription drugs.