Chiropractic After a Car Accident

Car Accidents and Chiropractic

Should I see a chiropractor after my car accident? In short, yes. But why?

Chiropractors specialize in musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. Musculoskeletal injuries are those that affect muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and joints. For example, whiplash is the leading injury from car accidents, and it is, you guessed it, a musculoskeletal injury. Other injuries from car accidents can also include concussions, traumatic brain injuries, or disc injuries.

Common Injuries from Car Accidents

Whiplash Injury

  • Whiplash: Whiplash is the leading injury from car accidents. Whiplash is when your head moves in one direction quickly and then quickly in the other direction resulting in neck injuries like strains, sprains, or disc injury. Whiplash from car accidents typically occurs in the forward and backward direction, like from being rear-ended or head-on collisions. Still, it is also possible to have side-to-side whiplash from T-bone type collision or a combination of side-to-side with forward and backward. Whiplash can cause neck pain, headaches, poor posture, and muscle aches. Whiplash can also cause ligament injury and disc injuries. 15-40% of whiplash injury patients can develop chronic neck pain after a car accident.

  • Head and Brain Injuries: Sudden head movements like those from whiplash can also cause head or brain injuries like concussions. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries and common head injuries from car accidents. Concussion symptoms and severity can vary from mild to more severe. Whether from hitting your head on something in the car or from your brain rattling around in your skull, head and brain injuries can significantly impact many aspects of your life. These can be headaches, dizziness, vision problems, memory difficulties, brain fog (slow reaction time or absent-mindedness), nausea, irritability, sleep problems (typically getting less sleep than usual), depression, anxiety, and others. Some of these symptoms can improve quickly, while others may take weeks or months to resolve.

  • Arm, Shoulder & Chest injuries: Seatbelts are a good safety measure, but they can result in chest or shoulder injuries like chest bruises, rotator cuff strains, separated shoulders, and rib pain, to name a few. Shoulder, wrist, forearm, and elbow injuries are also common due to hands on the steering wheel during impact.

  • Low Back Pain: Muscle strains or spasms are a common source of low back pain from a car accident due to bracing for impact or the sudden movement caused by the collision. Along with low back pain, sacroiliac pain, sciatica, or disc injuries are also possible from a car accident.

  • Leg, knee & hip pain: At the moment of impact, if a driver has one or both feet on the pedals during a car accident, then foot, ankle, knee, or hip injuries are likely. The most common injury to the lower limb is from the knee striking the dashboard, which can cause contusions, fractures, hip dislocation, or ligament injury. Foot and ankle injuries are also common from impacts with the pedals or floorboards.

If you were a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist involved in a car accident, there is a higher likelihood of more significant injuries like fractures & traumatic brain injury.

Why Should Car Accident Patients See a Chiropractor?

Because most car accident injuries are musculoskeletal injuries, chiropractors are trained to diagnose and treat these injuries. If needed, chiropractors can also order x-rays, MRIs, or other diagnostic tests. In addition, chiropractic adjustments can help move the joints, relax the muscles and improve your alignment. Chiropractic care can also help minimize the potential of developing chronic neck or back pain from car accident injuries.

What to Expect at Element Chiropractic After a Car Accident

First Visit:

  • Bring your auto insurance information, health insurance information, and claim number (if you have one).

  • You will complete specific motor vehicle accident forms that give the doctor information about the accident, your injuries, and any care that you may have already received.

  • Consultation and examination with the chiropractor will be performed to determine the areas of injury and the severity of these injuries.

  • X-rays may be taken as part of the examination. We have an in-clinic digital x-ray, or you may be referred to an imaging center.

  • Depending on your injuries, you may receive chiropractic adjustments on your first visit.

  • The first visit will take about 1 hour to 1.5 hours.

Types of Care:

  • Chiropractic: Frequently, patients are very tender and stiff after a car accident, so instrument adjusting and gentle manual chiropractic techniques may be utilized more frequently at the beginning of care.

  • Traditional manual chiropractic adjustments may also be used depending on the injuries and patient tolerance.

  • Rehab Exercises: Getting those muscles stronger and more stable is a big part of your recovery. You will be given some simple exercises or stretches that you can do at home to help speed up your recovery, and some more specific exercises will be done in the clinic too.

  • Kinesio Tape: Kinesio tape is a special stretchy type of tape that can help provide posture support, joint support, or swelling.

  • Order Advanced Imaging: No referral is needed if your chiropractor thinks that an MRI, ultrasound, or other advanced imaging is necessary to understand your injuries better. Your chiropractor can directly order any advanced imaging needed.

Working with Other Healthcare Professionals:

We are happy to work with other providers to get you better faster. In addition, many of our patients can benefit from additional services such as acupuncture, physical therapy, and massage therapy.

For more serious complaints or pain, we may refer you to your primary care doctor for medication or to specialists like neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, or pain specialists.


Because chiropractors are muscle and bone specialists they should be the first stop for your recovery and improvement after an auto accident

To see a chiropractor with 15 years of car accident experience, call Element Chiropractic Care today.