Treatment After Auto Accidents
Houston Chiropractor Comments: Unfortunately there are more than 6 million auto accidents every year. Of these 6 million accidents, 40,000 people will be killed and 2 million will have some form of permanent injuries. The most important aspect of treatment is being seen by a doctor who regularly treats these types of injuries. The best treatment is knowing what to do and, just as important, knowing what not to do.
The best treatment is to begin with what is called “passive” therapy. These are therapies that are done to you and don’t require a doctor or therapist in attendance. This would be things such as ice, electrical stimulation or manual traction. These treatments are rendered to help reduce inflammation, ease muscle spasms and help minimize your pain. This type of care will typically be used for the first week or two before the patient is transitioned to the second type of care, called “active” care. Active care is care that is done with the assistance of a doctor or therapist. This would include therapeutic exercises, massage, mobilization, rehabilitative exercises, cold laser or ultrasound. These are usually done for the next two to 6 weeks to strengthen the muscles and minimize scar tissue. At the end of care the patient should be given home care exercises and stretches to help prevent any re-occurrences of pain and give them the tools to maintain their corrections.
What not to do is just as important. The patient should not be told that all accidents lead to permanent pain or that they will be disabled for life. The patient should be told that pain after an accident is normal, but it will go away. The patient should not be told to put heat on the painful area as this will only increase the swelling around the damaged tissue. The patient should not have an MRI performed during the first couple weeks unless they are having bowel or bladder issues. It is quite common to have referred pain down the arms or legs that are not related to any disc damage. This pain will typically go away in 1-2 weeks with the correct treatment. Often patients will get an MRI of the neck or low back that shows a bulging or protruding disc and the doctor will tell the patient that it was caused by the accident and that they need spinal injections or surgery. Unfortunately, these discs are quite common and found in large portions of the population that don’t have back pain or were not involved in an accident. The patient now thinks that he/she is permanently injured with a “blown disc” and they limit their activities and become “mental cripples”. Too scared to do any activities for fear the pain will return.
After being a doctor of chiropractic for 30 years and treating approximately 10,000 patients, I have found that with the proper treatment most patients involved in auto accidents are symptom free after 2 to 8 weeks. If they are given the correct home based exercises and stretches to perform after they are discharged, and they do them, they rarely have any future problems associated with the accident. It is a matter of the proper treatment and having the patient’s best interest at heart.
Dr. Ward Beecher practices at Beecher Chiropractic Clinic at 1001 Pineloch, Ste 700 Houston, TX 77062. You can schedule an appointment at www.BeecherChiropractic.com or by calling (281) 286-1300. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please comment below!