November 27, 2023 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff

California’s roads are clogged with millions of vehicles, and state car accident statistics show that crash-related injuries are common—totaling more than 200,000 each year. A wide range of healthcare professionals—including chiropractors—help accident victims recover from their injuries.

So, should you see a chiropractor after a car accident? The answer depends on the nature of your injuries. It’s best to coordinate your overall recovery plan with your primary care physician (PCP) or an orthopedic doctor—but your treatment may involve various forms of medical care, chiropractic care, and physical therapy.

Let’s get into a bit more detail.

The Importance of a Medical Exam After a Car Accident

There are at least two big reasons why you should get a medical exam after a car accident.

First, the trauma of an accident often triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response, with its characteristic flood of adrenaline. One effect of adrenaline is stress-induced analgesia—a temporary masking of the sensation of pain. If you’re in a situation where you need to fight or flee, this allows you to carry on even if you’re injured. After a car accident, though, you may think you’re uninjured and awaken the following morning in excruciating pain.

The adrenaline has worn off, and you now feel every bump and bruise, every microscopic tear in your muscles and ligaments, and every misalignment in your bones. In addition, some potentially life-threatening injuries, such as internal bleeding, may not have any immediate outward symptoms.

So, even if you’ve just walked away from a head-on collision seemingly unhurt, it’s advisable to go to the emergency room for a medical exam. Alternatively—especially for more minor accidents—you could opt to visit an urgent care center or your PCP.

Second, if your car accident was caused entirely or partly by another driver’s error, traffic violation, or carelessness, getting a full medical exam is an important step in beginning to compile documentation showing that the accident caused your injuries and that you deserve compensation.

Spine Infographic About Seeing a Chiropractor After a Car Accident

See a Doctor Before Seeing the Chiropractor

Car accident injuries run the gamut from surface scrapes to whiplash, broken bones, organ damage, and traumatic brain injury. Professionals from various medical specialties play different roles in accident recovery. For example, emergency room physicians are experts in treating immediate traumatic injuries. They also have a full range of diagnostic tools available to assess your overall condition—including X-rays and more advanced imaging technologies like CT and MRI scans.

After your condition is stabilized, your care can be coordinated by a primary care doctor or an orthopedist—whichever makes more sense given your injuries. If you have broken bones, a herniated disc in your spine, or severe inflammation in your joints, you probably need direct care from an orthopedic doctor. However, an orthopedist or PCP might also refer you to a chiropractor or a physical therapist.

Chiropractors make small adjustments to the alignment of your spine and other joints to relieve pain and inflammation and improve your range of motion. Chiropractic care can relieve specific or generalized pain without the use of drugs and has been known to speed up accident recovery and prevent the development of long-term or chronic conditions.

A physical therapist plays a complementary role in accident recovery—helping with pain relief and improving range of motion. But a physical therapist takes a different approach than a chiropractor, using stretching and exercises.

Here’s the bottom line: Seeing a chiropractor is often an option for facilitating healing after a car accident, but it’s a good idea to see a doctor first. If your doctor doesn’t suggest chiropractic care, ask about it. Ultimately, your care may involve multiple medical specialists, including chiropractors and physical therapists.

Chiropractic Care After a Car Accident—FAQs

The question of who pays for things after a car accident usually comes down to who was at fault. If another driver caused your car accident, their insurance company should pay for your chiropractic care.

You should continue to see the chiropractor for as long as it is medically necessary. Coordinate with your chiropractor and PCP to assess your recovery and determine when you’ve received the maximum benefit from chiropractic care.

You should be very concerned if you see a lawyer who wants you to see “their” chiropractor or doctor. Such healthcare professionals typically treat patients referred by a lawyer on a lien—in other words, they have a financial stake in your case. Their bills are usually much higher than what would be allowed by your health insurance—and when your case settles or ends in a jury award, their fees are deducted from the settlement before you receive anything.

There are rare instances when there are no other options for a client to get medical treatment—usually when they have no health insurance. But Chain | Cohn | Clark strongly encourages clients to seek medical treatment through their own health insurance.

Bakersfield Personal Injury Attorneys

If you were injured in a car accident caused by another driver, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark can help you pursue a claim against the responsible driver’s insurance or recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit.

For a free, no-obligation review of your case, contact us today.