Chiropractic Diagnosis and Treatment for Car Accident Victims

Treatment following an auto accident depends on what has been injured. Below you’ll see a listing of the most common injuries and what treatment is required. Some treatment also requires other medical specialties.

Whiplash/Neck Pain

Whiplash refers to injuries of the neck caused by the head whipping forward and backward usually when rear-ended. This whipping causes the muscles to be torn, the ligaments to be stretched or torn, and the joints to be compressed and damaged.

Treatment begins with controlling inflammation or swelling of the tissues and gentle stretching to return the neck to normal range of motion. Once these are under control, the tissues will need to be restrengthened and returned to normal function.

Treatments usually given are spinal manipulation, stretching, therapeutic exercise, electrotherapy, ice/heat, home stretching and exercise, and nutritional counseling for maximum healing speed. While spinal manipulation and exercise therapy both are effective at helping get rid of neck pain following whiplash, it has been shown that doing both together is the most effective.

Medications prescribed by a medical doctor can be helpful in the early phases to control pain, but are not a long-term solution. If you need a referral to a medical doctor for medication, please contact our office.


Headaches are 2nd only to neck pain in frequency following a car accident. Most headaches either start in the back of the head where the neck attaches and then work their way forward behind the eyes. Or, they start behind the eyes and work their way back.

Either way, headaches are incredibly common in life and after car accidents.

The cause of headaches following an accident are the muscles and the joints in the neck. This type of headache is termed cervicogenic – meaning the source of pain is the neck.

Other sources of pain can include concussion and related symptoms following concussion. Dr. Page will check you for concussion and make appropriate diagnostic choices and referrals based on how severe your concussion might have been.

However, most headaches after a car accident are caused by injury to the muscles and the joints and then pressure placed on the nerves which go up into the head. Treatment for this type of cervicogenic headache is the same as for whiplash discussed to the left: chiropractic spinal manipulation, exercise rehabilitation and home program of stretching. As the muscles and the joints of the neck heal, the headaches go away automatically.

Lower Back Pain and Radicular Pain

Lower back pain and pain coming out of the lower back extending down into the buttocks or legs is referred to as radicular pain. This means that the nerve roots of the lower back are irritating and sending pain or possibly tingling/numbness into the legs as well.

Not all pain going down the legs is radicular in nature, but some is. If radicular pain is found, then an MRI of the lumbar spine will be ordered. IF the pain is referred pain from the lower back, then, treatment as described below will be undertaken.  The purpose of an MRI where signs of radicular pain are present is to assess the health of the discs of the spine.

Positive findings on an MRI of disc herniation may or may not be surgical in nature. Dr. Page will discuss those findings and treatment options with you.

However, treatment for lower back pain involves rehabilitating the muscles, joints, and ligaments of the lower back. This involves chiropractic spinal manipulation, exercise rehabilitation for the muscles, and home stretching and strengthening program.

Often, medical specialists recommend lumbar epidural steroid injections to help control pain following accidents.

Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is very common and usually caused by powerful forces and the seatbelt. Often the unrestrained shoulder will be pushed forward causing the shoulder to dislocate and relocate very quickly. This injuries the muscles, tendons, and often ligaments of the shoulder.

Dr. Page will conduct a thorough evaluation of your shoulder to determine if there are any potential rotator cuff injuries of the shoulder and whether or not you need an MRI to further evaluate the shoulder. If there is the possibility that you may need surgery, Dr. Page will refer you immediately to a high quality orthopedic surgeon.

However, fortunately, most injures will only require physical therapy and chiropractic care. Shoulder rehabilitation starts with controlling the swelling and increasing the range of motion. This is then followed by exercise rehabilitation to restore normal strength to the shoulder muscles and tendons. Chiropractic care also to the shoulder.

Precise and effective home stretching and exercises are also vitally important. You will need to be an active participant in your care.

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