Of the estimated 6,734,000 police-reported accidents in 2018, 28% of them resulted in injuries. A total of 2,710,000 people in those crashes were hurt.
If you’re one of those people, getting treatment right away helps you heal faster and prevent worsening injuries. Even a minor car accident can cause injuries and pain.
If you decide to go to a chiropractor to treat those injuries, you may ask yourself, “How long should I go to a chiropractor after an accident?”
Since every accident injury and every person’s healing process is different, there’s no standard guideline for the length of your chiropractic treatment. Your chiropractor will determine the best treatment plan, including the length, to fit your specific needs.
Keep reading to learn more about what to expect from your chiropractic care after an accident, including the length of the treatment.
The U.S. has over 70,000 state-licensed chiropractors. But what do they do?
Chiropractors deal with the mechanics of your musculoskeletal system. They pay special attention to the spine, but they also support other joints and the nervous system.
The goal of a chiropractor is to use non-invasive treatments that are natural. That means they don’t use medications or surgeries to help you heal.
Chiropractic care focuses on both prevention and diagnosis of problems. It aims to help the body heal itself instead of relying on other interventions.
Almost half of Americans have gone to a chiropractor at some point in their lives with 14% having seen a chiropractor in the last year.
Some of those chiropractic patients go regularly for maintenance and to prevent problems. Some go to address chronic pain or health issues. Still, others go after an accident for acute care for the injuries.
Chiropractic adjustments are manual adjustments to the joints, specifically in the spine. Chiropractors use thrusts and pressure with their hands to make those adjustments.
The purpose is to get the spine back in alignment. This can reduce the strain on muscles and nerves and helps ease pain. It also makes it easier for your body to heal.
Chiropractors may incorporate other therapies into your treatment plan. That could include spinal traction, massage, exercise, heat and cold therapy, ultrasound, and electrical muscle stimulation. Some chiropractors also include dietary changes to support recovery.
A chiropractor can treat many of the side effects of car accidents. They deal primarily with the spine and joints but can also help with muscle pains.
Back pain is a common problem after a crash and something that’s in the chiropractor’s area of expertise. Whiplash injuries are also common in accidents, resulting in strains in the soft tissues of the neck.
No matter what your injuries, the chiropractor gives you an exam that’s similar to any healthcare provider. You’ll start with a medical history. The chiropractor will ask you about the accident and the symptoms you feel.
They’ll do a physical exam to evaluate your injuries. They may do lab tests or diagnostic imaging to get additional information about your injuries.
That information allows your chiropractor to form an initial diagnosis for your injuries. The chiropractor then creates your treatment plan, which includes the type of techniques and the length of the treatment.
You’ll likely start your chiropractic treatment right away to start healing the damage from the accident. The chiropractor monitors your progress at every appointment to see if the treatment is working.
Adjustments may be necessary to the treatment plan, depending on how you progress.
Your best bet is to see a doctor immediately after a car accident, even if you feel your injuries are minor. The adrenaline and endorphins your body releases at the time of the accident can mask your pain. You could have an internal injury without realizing it because of that.
Your chiropractor can do lots of testing to see if you have an injury that hasn’t shown symptoms yet.
Even if they don’t find anything, you establish a record of getting medical care. This is important if you need to file an insurance claim. It shows that you took the responsibility to get medical attention.
That first appointment also comes in handy if you start feeling symptoms later. It shows that you didn’t just put off treatment or ignore symptoms that were there from the beginning.
Make an appointment with your preferred chiropractor as soon as possible after the accident. Taking care of your medical needs is the first priority, more so than proving that you weren’t at fault.
Leaving an injury untreated could cause serious side effects.
It may seem like your chiropractor wants to see you too often. It’s true that you need to go several times to get the full effects.
Chiropractic is a manual therapy treatment. Your body needs to receive that manual adjustment multiple times to train it to stay in alignment.
Think of it as training for a marathon. You wouldn’t go out for one training run and think you’re ready to run 26.2 miles.
Your body needs that training to heal and maintain proper alignment.
Your chiropractor determines how often you need to go to your appointments.
The frequency of your visits depends on a number of factors. The type and severity of your injury are important in deciding the number of appointments.
You may start with frequent appointments for an intense initial treatment. As you start to heal, your chiropractor may space out the appointments more, tapering off until you’re done with treatment.
When you’re first injured, your chiropractor may want to see you three to five times per week.
Once the pain and symptoms are under control, that might drop to two to three times per week. You don’t need the intensive therapy, but you still need support to heal the underlying injury fully.
Your chiropractor may suggest continued maintenance appointments from once a week to once a month, depending on your situation.
Just like the number of appointments you need per week, the overall length of your treatment comes down to what your chiropractor recommends.
How long you go to the chiropractor depends on your specific injury. If it’s severe, you may need to go to therapy for weeks or months. If it’s minor, the length may be shorter.
It also depends on how quickly you heal. In some patients, even minor injuries take longer to heal than expected. This may extend how long you have to go.
Your chiropractor may give you an estimate of how long you’ll need to attend sessions at your initial appointment. But this can always change as your care progresses.
The doctor evaluates your progress as your treatment happens to see if you’re progressing as expected.
You may be released from chiropractic care early if you heal ahead of schedule. Or you may need to go longer than planned if your injury takes longer to heal.
Your chiropractor may also find additional injuries after the initial diagnosis that require you to go longer.
It’s ultimately up to your care provider to decide how long you need to go. Since everyone heals at different rates, there are no standard treatment lengths. It all comes down to your healing process.
Your chiropractic care may start making you feel better immediately. The longer you attend your sessions, the more relief you’ll likely feel.
You may start to wonder if you need to continue going to the treatment sessions. You’re feeling better, so why spend the time and money going?
Avoid that temptation to end your chiropractic therapy early. It can hurt you physically, and it can hurt your personal claims case.
Even though you experience relief, your injury may not be fully healed. The decreased pain means the chiropractic care is working. Stopping the care may let the pain come back.
If you’re not fully healed and strong, you may be at a higher risk of reinjuring yourself. This time, the injury could be more severe and longer-lasting.
You’ll have to go to therapy again, and the treatment this time may be longer.
By quitting treatment early, you may end up prolonging your recovery time significantly.
That longer treatment time means more medical bills. You may have some out-of-pocket expenses before you receive your insurance settlement, so this increases your financial burden.
You may also hurt your chance of getting an insurance payment at all.
If you quit going earlier than recommended by your doctor, the insurance company may argue that you didn’t do what you should to get healthy. They may deny your claim because you didn’t follow your doctor’s advice.
They may also refuse to pay for the new injuries if you hurt yourself again after you stop going prematurely.
To help your case, you want to follow what your doctor or chiropractor says exactly. That way, the insurance company can’t accuse you of making your situation worse.
You can’t rush the healing process too much. You may be able to support what happens at your chiropractor’s office to heal faster and end your treatment sooner.
Never skip a chiropractor’s appointment. If you can’t make it to a scheduled session, reschedule it as soon as possible to get in all of your treatment.
Skipping can slow your progress. It can also be a red flag to the insurance company that you aren’t serious about recovering, even if that’s not true.
Follow any advice your chiropractor gives you during the sessions. You may receive exercises or stretches to do at home. Do them religiously as the chiropractor prescribes.
Those home exercises can help strengthen your body. They may help you heal faster and support the progress you make in your chiropractor sessions.
Stick to any limitations your care provider prescribes. Maybe you’re supposed to take two weeks off of work or remain on light duty until you’re cleared.
It may seem inconvenient, but listening to those restrictions now can help you improve faster. It can shorten your overall recovery time.
Focus on your overall health, too. A healthy body is better able to heal and grow stronger. Eat a balanced diet, following any recommendations your chiropractor gives you.
When you get the clearance from your doctor, start a light exercise routine. Take your body’s lead to determine what you can handle.
Drink plenty of water throughout your recovery. Hydration supports your muscles and may help them heal faster.
Regular communication with your chiropractor can help you understand your diagnosis and treatment plan. Make sure you ask questions and clarify anything you don’t understand at every appointment.
It’s important that you answer questions honestly and thoroughly when your chiropractor asks you how you’re feeling. Answer specific questions with as much detail as possible. If you’re not sure what the chiropractor is asking, clarify what they mean.
If your chiropractor doesn’t ask you how you’re doing, speak up, especially if you notice changes or you feel like you’re not improving. You need to be your own health advocate by asking questions and telling your chiropractor when something doesn’t seem right.
Your chiropractor won’t know about changes in your condition unless you share how you’re feeling.
If you feel like you’re better and don’t need to go anymore, discuss the situation with your chiropractor instead of just stopping your sessions. They may run the diagnostic tests again to see if you healed faster than expected.
They may also explain to you why you should continue your treatment. People often assume doctors just want more money from you, but there’s likely a medical reason for continuing the treatment.
You can always get a second opinion if you believe your chiropractor is dragging out treatment unnecessarily.
If you’re asking yourself, “How long should I go to a chiropractor after an accident?“, the answer comes down to your personal situation. Always work closely with your chiropractor to make sure you get the proper treatment for the necessary amount of time. Stopping your chiropractic treatment early can cause issues with your health and your insurance claim.
Are you looking for a good chiropractor to help you after an accident? Check out our list of top-rated accident doctors in the area.
If you or your family member have been involved in an auto accident, injured at work, or suffered a slip & fall accident in New York or New Jersey, we invite you to explore our free comprehensive library.
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The content on this site is for informational purposes and should not be considered as legal advice, medical diagnosis or treatment recommendations for your accident injuries.
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