Chiropractic Care for Car Accident Injuries
The word “chiropractic” comes from the Greek words cheir (hand) and praxis (action) and literally means “done by hand.” Instead of prescribing drugs or performing surgeries, chiropractors use manual treatments of the spine and joints, exercise therapy, massage, trigger point therapy and lifestyle changes to allow the body’s natural state of health to fully express itself.
Like conventional medicine, chiropractic is based upon scientific principles of (1) diagnosis through testing and empirical observation and (2) treatment based upon the practitioner’s rigorous training and clinical experience. But unlike conventional medicine, which focuses on attempting to treat disease once it occurs, chiropractic attempts to improve the health of the individual in an effort to avoid illness in the first place. Most people would rather be healthy and avoid illness, if they could. This is one of the main reasons for the big surge in the popularity of chiropractic, especially for whiplash injuries. People are recognizing the benefit of seeking an alternative to traditional medicine; one that will help them recover from their injuries faster and achieve optimal health.
We understand that one of the main causes of pain and disease is the misalignment and abnormal motion of the vertebrae in the spinal column called a subluxation. Chiropractic works by removing these subluxations in the spine, thereby relieving pressure and irritation on the nerves, restoring joint mobility, and returning the body back to a state of normal function.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that chiropractic care is one of the most effective treatments for back pain, neck
pain, headaches, whiplash, sports injuries and many other types of musculoskeletal problems, it has even been shown
to be effective in reducing high blood pressure, decreasing the frequency of childhood ear infections (otitis media) and improving the symptoms of asthma. Clearly, chiropractic for car accident injuries is your best option to getting well again.
The chiropractic approach to health care is holistic meaning that it addresses your overall health. We recognize
that many lifestyle factors such as exercise, diet, rest and your environment impact your health. For this reason, we recommend changes in lifestyle — eating, exercise, and sleeping habits — in addition to chiropractic care.
The History of Chiropractic
Manual manipulation of the spine and other joints in the body has been around for a long time. Ancient writings from
China and Greece dating between 2700 B.C. and 1500 B.C. mention spinal manipulation and the maneuvering of the
lower extremities to case low back pain. In fact, Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician who lived from 460 to 357 B.C., published a text detailing the importance of manual manipulation. In one of his writings he declares, “Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases”. Socrates, another great philosopher said, “If you seek health, look first to the spine”. Evidence of manual manipulation of the body has been found among the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Babylon, Syria, Japan, the Incas, Mayans and Native Americans. Findings in early Germany and Scotland suggest they also had a crude type of chiropractor known as “bonesetters.”
The official beginning of the chiropractic profession dates back to 1895 when Daniel David Palmer restored the hearing
of Harvey Lillard by manually adjusting his neck. Something told him he was into something good. Two years later, in
1897, Dr. Palmer founded the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, which continues to train doctors of chiropractic to this day. Today there are more than 60,000 practicing chiropractors in the United States.
Throughout the twentieth century, the profession of chiropractic has gained considerable recognition and scientific support. Research studies have clearly demonstrated the value of chiropractic care in reducing health care costs, improving recovery rates and increasing patient satisfaction. In fact, one very large study conducted in Canada, the 1993 Manga Study concluded that chiropractic care would save hundreds of millions of dollars annually in work disability payments and direct health care costs. Several major studies conducted by the U.S. Government, the Rand Corporation and others, have all demonstrated the incredible value of chiropractic care. Unfortunately, there are still many people who have never been to a chiropractor and don’t understand what we do. Our hope is that this site will help educate more people about this wonderful field of health care.
The Vertebral Subluxation Complex
What truly differentiates doctors of chiropractic from any other health care professionals is the fact that chiropractors are the only professionals who are trained to diagnose and treat what are called spinal subluxations. The word “subluxation” comes from the Latin words meaning “to dislocate” (luxare) and “somewhat” or “slightly” (sub). So the term “vertebral subluxation” literally means a slight dislocation (misalignment) of the bones in the spine.
Although this term was adequate in the 1800’s when much was still misunderstood about the human body, today the word “subluxation” has changed in meaning to capture the complex of neurological, structural and functional changes that occur when a bone is “out of place.” For this reason chiropractors usually refer to a subluxation of the spine as a “Vertebral Subluxation Complex”, or “VSC” for short. There are actually five components that contribute to the Vertebral Subluxation Complex (VSC). They are:
1 ) The bone component, where the vertebra is either out of position, not moving properly, or is undergoing degeneration. This frequently leads to a narrowing of the spaces between the bones through which the nerves pass; often resulting in irritation or impingement of the nerve itself.
2) The nervous component is the disruption of the normal flow of energy along the nerve fibers, causing the messages traveling along the nerves to become distorted. The result is that all of the tissues fed by those nerves receive distorted signals from the brain and, consequently, are not able to function normally. Over time, this can lead to to whole host of conditions, such as peptic ulcers, constipation and other organ system dysfunction.
3) The muscular component. Since nerves control the muscles that help hold the vertebrae in place, muscles have to be considered an integral part of the vertebral subluxation complex. In fact, muscles both affect, and are affected by the VSC. A subluxation irritates a nerve and the irritated nerve causes a muscle to spasm. The spasmed muscle then pulls the attached vertebrae further out of place, which further irritates the nerve and you have a vicious cycle. In addition to this, the muscles around a subluxation often become inflamed, spasmed and trigger points develop.
4) The soft tissue component. The VSC will also affect the surrounding tendons, ligaments, blood supply and other tissues as the misaligned vertebrae tug and squeeze the connective tissue with tremendous force. Over time, the soft tissues can become stretches out or scarred, leaving the spine with either a permanent instability of restriction.
5) The chemical component is the change in the chemistry of the body due to the VSC. Most often, the chemical changes, such as the release of a class of chemicals called “kinins,” are pro-inflammatory; meaning that they increase inflammation in the affected area.
These changes will get progressively worse over time if they arc not treated correctly; leading to chronic pain, inflammation, arthritis, muscle trigger points, the formation of bone spurs, loss of movement, as well as muscle weakness and spasm. Chiropractors have known the dangers of the Vertebral Subluxation Complex ever since the birth of the profession. More and more scientific research is demonstrating the tremendous detrimental impact that subluxation have on the tissue of the body. In order to be truly healthy, it is vital that your nervous system be functioning free of interference from subluxations. Chiropractors are the only health professionals trained in the
detection, location, and correction of the Vertebral Subluxation Complex through chiropractic care.
This patient came into one of our offices complaining of headaches, neck and upper back pain, and left shoulder pain following a motor vehicle crash. She told us that she did not experience pain for 3-4 weeks following her auto accident and that her pain had progressively become worse. Here is the x-ray film of her neck (pictured right on desktop, below on mobile). Note that these x-rays are not of the same person, but are shown for comparison and illustration.
As you can see from this x-ray, her cervical spine is perfectly straight and is tilting forward. Normally, her cervical spine should have a slight curve; a lordosis. The forward tilting of her neck means that all of the muscles in her upper back have to stay under constant tension in order to keep her head up.
The constant muscle tension lead to the development of trigger points in her muscles and abnormal position and movement of her vertebrae, causing inflammation and irritation of her cervical spine.
Chiropractic care is one of the only proven remedies for whiplash injuries. Even if you feel normal after an accident, with no symptoms, you should be thoroughly examined. Symptoms can be delayed for days, and in some cases may not surface for years. Worse, whiplash can still he causing symptoms indefinitely, and in the long run can cause secondary problems such as osteoarthritis and premature disc degeneration. This delay in symptoms and the long-term consequences make it very important to get examined after any accident.
Spinal adjustments to correct subluxations are what make doctors of chiropractic unique in comparison with any other
type of health care professional. The term “adjustment” refers to the specific manipulation chiropractors apply to vertebrae which have abnormal movement patterns or tail to function normally. The objective of the chiropractic treatment is to reduce the subluxation, which results in an increased range of motion, reduced nerve irritability and improved function.
The chiropractic adjustment is a quick thrust applied to a vertebrae for the purpose of correcting its position, movement
or both. Adjustments are often accompanied by an audible release of gas in the spinal joints that sounds like a “crack.”
The sound sometimes shocks people a little bit the first couple times they get adjusted, but the sensation is usually relieving.
Occasionally, minor discomfort is experienced, especially if the surrounding muscles are in spasm or the patient tenses up during the chiropractic procedure. There are times when the audible “cracking” does not occur. This is often due to either significant muscle tightness or the patient having a hard time relaxing during their adjustments. A very common misconception about the “popping” sound is that it is the actual bone breaking or cracking. Let us assure you that this is absolutely not true!
The chiropractic adjustment is important, certainly, but it may not be the only procedure a chiropractor employs in
managing a patient’s care. There are other forms of physiological therapeutics used in chiropractic, including the use of
electrical stimulation, ultrasound, traction, dietary management as well as other natural procedures.
Chiropractic is so much more than simply a means of relieving pain. Ultimately, the goal of the chiropractic treatment
is to restore the body to its natural state of optimal health. In order to accomplish this, we use a variety of treatment methods, including manual adjustments, instrument adjusting, massage, trigger point therapy, nutrition, physical therapy, exercise rehabilitation, and counseling on lifestyle issues that impact your health. Our primary focus is simply to remove those things which interfere with the b0dy’s normal healing ability.
Chiropractors understand that within each of us is an innate wisdom, a health energy that will express itself as perfect health and well-being if we simply allow it to. Therefore. the focus of chiropractic care is simply to remove any physiological blocks to the proper expression of the body’s innate wisdom. Once these subluxations are removed, health is the natural consequence.
The Three Phases of Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care following an injury is like building a house – certain things have to happen in a particular order for
everything to stand. When building a house, if you tried to put up your walls before you had a solid foundation, your walls would be weak and eventually collapse. If you tried to put on your roof before the walls were ready, you would run into the same problem. The same is true for your body. Your body has to go through a particular plan of care in order to repair itself correctly and fully. There are three general phases of chiropractic care: 1) relief care, 2) corrective care, and 3) maintenance care. How long each phase of care takes depends on the severity of your injuries.
Phase One – Relief Care
Many people go to a chiropractor because they are in pain. In this first phase of care, the main goal is to relieve you of your symptoms. Sometimes this will require daily visits, or three visits per week for a time.
Most people are under the assumption that if they don’t feel any pain that there is nothing wrong with them – that they are healthy. Unfortunately, pain is a very poor indicator of health.
In fact, pain and other symptoms frequently only appear after a disease or other condition has become advanced. For example, consider at cavity in your tooth. Does it hurt when it first develops or only after it has become serious? How about heart disease? Regardless of whether you are talking about cancer, heart disease. diabetes. stress or problems with the spine, pain is usually the last thing to appear. When you begin chiropractic care, pain is also the first symptom to disappear, even though much of the underlying condition remains.
Phase Two – Corrective Care
Most chiropractors regard the elimination of symptoms as the easiest part of a course of treatment. If all that the chiropractor does is to remove the pain and stop there, the chances of the condition recurring are much greater. In order to avoid a rapid recurrence of symptoms, it is necessary to continue treatment even though your symptoms are gone.
During the correction phase of your treatment, you will not have to be treated as often as you did during the first phase of care and, depending on your particular circumstances, you may begin doing exercises and stretches at home to help accelerate your healing. Do not be discouraged if you have mild flare-ups in your symptoms on occasion. This is normal. Flare-ups are bound to occur during the corrective phase because your body has not fully recovered. Depending on the severity of your injury or condition and how long you have been suffering from it, this phase of your care may last anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.
Phase Three – Maintenance Care
Once your body has fully healed, routine maintenance chiropractic care can help ensure that your physical problems do not return, and keep your body in optimal condition. Just like continuing an exercise program and eating well in order to sustain the benefits of exercise and proper diet, it is necessary to continue chiropractic care to ensure the health of your musculoskeletal system. When you make routine chiropractic care a part of your lifestyle, you avoid many of the aches and pains that so many people suffer. Your joints will last longer and you will be able to engage in more of the activities you love.
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