Are There Benefits of Chiropractic Care after Car Accidents?

Consulting with a chiropractor after a traffic accident may be the right choice for many accident victims. Chiropractors treat neck injuries and whiplash, back injuries, soft tissue injuries, and they also help accident victims to loosen stiff muscles. Chiropractic therapy aims at healing musculoskeletal injuries. The practice is grounded on the presumption that when the nervous system functions correctly and the skeletal system is aligned properly, the human body can self-heal.


In the United States, chiropractors treat a third of all accident victims. About two-thirds of all traffic collision injuries are musculoskeletal injuries from whiplash or cervical, thoracic, and lumbar strains or sprains. Chiropractors specifically treat these kinds of soft tissue injuries. Among other functions, a chiropractor will perform specific manipulations of vertebrae that have abnormal movement patterns or that fail to function properly. A chiropractic adjustment, for example, is a routine therapeutic treatment for lower back pain.


In recent decades, chiropractic treatment has become a mainstream treatment. A number of insurance plans now fully cover chiropractic therapy, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been approving chiropractic treatments for veterans since 2004. Some insurance companies still consider chiropractic treatment to be an “alternative” therapy, but it has long been a widely-accepted solution to spinal and neck problems including lower back pain and whiplash.


After a traffic accident, there may be injuries that can’t be seen – back and neck injuries, herniated discs, neck and back pain, misaligned vertebrae, headaches, and head pain. Delays in the onset of pain after a traffic accident are also quite common. Joint injuries in auto accidents may cause post-traumatic osteoarthritis, a speeding up of the arthritis process in younger persons. After any traffic crash, obtaining the medical treatment you need must come first, even if you don’t “feel” injured, because of the possible injuries that are not visible to the naked eye.

Accident victims should not wait to obtain treatment. In the state of Colorado, traffic crash victims should seek medical attention as quickly as possible, and if another driver’s negligence was responsible for the traffic accident, injury victims should also arrange to speak promptly with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney. Some injuries may not be detected – or detectable – until days or weeks after a collision, so the sooner a chiropractor sees you, the better your chances are for a quick recovery.


Injuries can and do occur in low-speed collisions, so those collisions can be dangerous too. One of the most common injuries suffered in traffic collisions is the cervical/neck strain known as whiplash. Whiplash injuries happen mainly but not only in rear-end collisions, and they happen in low-speed accidents as well as in high-speed crashes. Automobile bumpers are made to withstand damage at low speeds, but humans are not, so when a vehicle doesn’t absorb the force of a crash, the occupants of the vehicle absorb that force, and it can lead to neck, back, and spinal injuries.

When the neck muscles and tendons are stretched by a force beyond their natural range of motion, that person will very likely sustain a whiplash injury. Along with sprains and strains of the neck, the shoving or yanking force may sometimes result in severely misaligned cervical vertebrae. There are no “minor” head, neck, or spinal injuries. Chiropractic treatment, however, works to heal the physical damage “holistically” without using pharmaceuticals or surgeries.

Whiplash may cause a stiff back, a stiff neck, nausea and dizziness, severe migraines, shoulder aches, extreme sensitivity to light and sound, and pain that radiates from the neck to the shoulders and arms. Anyone suspecting whiplash should be examined as soon as possible because whiplash does not simply disappear over time. Instead, whiplash symptoms usually get worse, and a whiplash injury can permanently restrict the motion of the neck without prompt and effective treatment. Some whiplash victims will recover swiftly and fully, but for others, the pain can persist for up to several years.


Chiropractors heal – or they help the body to heal – whiplash and many of the other injuries linked to traffic collisions by adjusting misaligned vertebrae, by easing inflammation and swelling, and by improving circulation through manual procedures, spinal “decompression,” and physical therapy. Some chiropractors include acupuncture as a part of their practice, and most also make recommendations regarding diet and dietary supplements.


Someone’s first chiropractic visit typically includes both a physical exam and a medical history. A patient should explain the accident and describe the resulting injury to the chiropractor as exactly and as specifically as possible. Patients will be asked if they have any underlying or recurring medical condition, about their family’s medical history, and about their diet, any previous medical treatments, and any current medical conditions or prescriptions.


During a first examination, a chiropractor will check the spine’s alignment and will also look for any signs of inflammation. The neck’s ability to move freely and painlessly may also be tested and assessed. Lab tests may be ordered to eliminate infection as a factor or to uncover medical problems that may require a non-chiropractic treatment. Most chiropractors will also order x-rays during someone’s first chiropractic visit.

The amount of time required for chiropractic treatment after someone is injured in a traffic collision depends entirely on the nature and the extent of the injury and any recurring illnesses or underlying medical conditions. A healthy person’s injury in a traffic accident, generally speaking, will heal quicker than a similar injury suffered by a person with an existing medical condition. Some patients may need as much as two years of chiropractic therapy. Others can complete chiropractic treatment in as little as a month or less.

Insurance companies may or may not cover chiropractic therapy. To guarantee that an accident victim is treated fairly after a traffic crash in the state of Colorado, for example, an injury victim should make no statement whatsoever to an insurance company prior to consulting with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney. Chiropractic treatment is still viewed suspiciously by some insurance companies, but an accident victim’s priority after being injured in a traffic collision must be to seek and obtain, as quickly as possible, the treatment and care that will be most effective.

By: Dallas Norton

Dallas Norton, the founding partner of Norton & Bowers, has practiced law with a focus on personal injury since 1992. Mr. Norton has extensive Colorado roots including grade school in Arvada and high school in Denver. He earned his J.D. from Brigham Young University Law School in 1991. When working on behalf of clients, Mr. Norton draws upon his extensive background in psychology and human resources.