According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3 million people are injured in auto accidents across the country each year.

When you’ve been hurt in an accident, getting treatment from your chiropractor shortly after can help you recover more quickly and can help your injuries from worsening over time. But since every accident is different and every injury is different, it can be difficult to know what your recovery process will look like. 

After an injury-related auto collision, your chiropractor will evaluate your injuries and come up with a treatment plan that’s suited to you, including the kinds of treatment you should receive and how long your course of treatment should be. Read one to learn what you should expect following a car accident.

What You Should Know About Whiplash 

One of the most common injuries following a collision is whiplash, which is a neck injury that occurs as the result of forceful, very fast back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the movement of the cracking of a whip. It’s also sometimes called a neck sprain or a neck strain.

Oftentimes, whiplash is caused by a rear-end collision. Many people start to get better in a few weeks with a combination of treatments, but some who experience whiplash also have chronic pain and long-lasting complications.

Around two-thirds of people who are involved in a car accident develop the symptoms of whiplash, which typically presents itself two to 48 hours following the collision. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck, arms, upper back and/or chest.
  • Headaches, particularly at the base of the skull.
  • Tingling or numbness of the arms.
  • Dizziness.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Nausea.
  • Blurred vision.

Some of these symptoms can subside quickly, while others can have symptoms up to five years after an accident. Eighty-two percent of those who experience whiplash can even see a straightening or reversal of the normal curve of the spine.  

The initial injury results from the damage of the muscles, ligaments, discs, blood vessels, and nerves surrounding the cervical column since the muscles that normally protect the neck and spine cannot respond quickly enough to lessen or prevent an injury.

Chiropractic Care and Whiplash

Visits with your chiropractor can be beneficial if you are suffering from whiplash. One study referenced by the American Chiropractic Association found that chiropractic treatment benefitted 26 out of 28 patients dealing with the pain of chronic whiplash syndrome. Their treatment included spinal manipulation, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, stretching, and cryotherapy.

A chiropractor can help alleviate your whiplash pain by improving mobility and range of motion and enhancing the movement of the surrounding musculature. Eventually, this can help your pain, soreness and stiffness subside and make motions like turning and tilting your head less painful.

Additionally, mobilization, massage, and other rehabilitation exercises prescribed by a chiropractor may help speed up the recovery process. 

When to Begin Care

When should you see your chiropractor regarding whiplash pain? Your rehabilitation can begin as soon as the initial pain and inflammation start to subside. Then your chiropractor can assess the magnitude of your injuries and develop an appropriate care plan.

Other Common Auto Accident-Related Injuries and How They’ll Affect Your Recovery

Whiplash isn’t the only kind of injury that brings patients in to see a chiropractor. What kinds of injuries might you be experiencing after a car accident?

  • Soft tissue injuries like mid-back and lower-back muscle sprains.
  • Injuries to the arms and legs, like sprains or broken bones.
  • Injuries to the spine.
  • Chest pain.
  • Broken ribs.
  • Knee injuries and pain.

The type and severity of your injuries depend on multiple factors, like the kind of collision, whether or not you were wearing a seatbelt, the position of your body at the time of the collision, whether it was a high- or low-speed crash, and whether or not the airbags deployed. All of this can impact your recovery.

What to Expect From Your Recovery

The goal of working with a chiropractor is to relieve your pain, regain mobility, and get your spine and body into alignment through safe, natural, non-invasive methods. This can take some time and the course of just a few or many appointments.

We like to remind our patients that recovery is a marathon, not a sprint, which means that it can take some time to feel as though you’ve recovered from your accident. After all, your body needs training to fully regain proper alignment.

No matter what kind of injuries you’ve incurred, your chiropractor will give you a full exam to evaluate the extent of your injuries. From an initial diagnosis to your unique treatment plan, which will include the techniques and exercises that are best for you as well as the length of your treatment.

The number of appointments you need per week and how long you’ll need treatment all depend on your body and your injuriesWhile you may start to feel better immediately (and we’re always glad to hear about it when this happens), your body has still gone through major trauma and may need continued appointments.

Decreased pain means your chiropractic care is working, and stopping care in the middle could result in your pain coming back. Your chiropractor will ensure that you are fully healed so that you are not at risk of further injuring yourself. The best things you can do to shorten your recovery time are:

  • Never skip an appointment.
  • Focus on your overall health, including eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water.
  • Follow all of your chiropractor’s recommendations and restrictions.
  • Do any prescribed home exercises, and follow the instructions for these to the letter.

The road to recovery shouldn’t be one that you have to go alone. At South Orange Chiropractic Center, we believe in treating the whole patient after a car accident. We can treat both your physical ailments and emotional stress following a collision to ensure you feel healed from the inside out. 


If you’ve been injured in a car accident, we’d love to help you recover. Contact us today to get started.