As members of a commonly misunderstood health care profession, doctors of chiropractic (chiropractors) are constantly having to fight against the misconception that their area of treatment is hokey, ineffective or misguided. However, speak to most people treated by chiropractors after a car accident and they will usually tell you that they experienced the greatest relief and best moved along the path to recovery from their soft tissue injuries after the treatment from their chiropractor.
Chiropractors focus on musculoskeletal and nervous system disorders, using a variety of treatment methods including, but not limited to, spinal manipulation, hot/cold therapy, electrical stimulation, exercises and more. Their treatment plans are often combined with physical therapy treatment and oversight by a medical doctor.
But, again, why chiropractic?
Chiropractic care is a well regulated, organized complementary and alternative medical treatment option. The manual therapy and hands-on approach of chiropractic care often provides patients with greater relief than traditional medical treatments (physiotherapy, medicine, counseling and education). Of course, chiropractic care is not appropriate for many types of injuries, especially those that may require more specialized care, surgical intervention or complex treatment. Chiropractic care can be complementary to other treatment regiments from medical doctors, therapists, counselors, and other providers.
Chiropractors and medical doctors have not always worked well together. As discussed in a 1989 letter to the editor in the American Journal of Public Health, the AMA declared in 1965 that it would be an ethical violation for medical doctors to associate professionally with chiropractors. It ultimately took a judge’s order, resulting from an anti-trust suit filed by chiropractors against the AMA, for the AMA to reverse course. That hard line stance has softened over the years. A 1992 opinion by the AMA states that:
“It is ethical for a physician to associate professionally with chiropractors provided that the physician believes that such association is in the best interests of his or her patient. A physician may refer a patient for diagnostic or therapeutic services to a chiropractor permitted by law to furnish such services whenever the physician believes that this may benefit his or her patient. Physicians may also ethically teach in recognized schools of chiropractic.”
– Opinion 3.041, Issued March 1992
Recognizing the benefits of chiropractic care in appropriate situations, now medical doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists work side by side to develop treatment plans that are in the best interests of their patients and promote the most effective and efficient recovery from injuries sustained in an auto accident.
It is the hands on approach of chiropractic care that uses spinal manipulation and other treatments to help promote the natural healing capabilities of the human body. Rather than relying simply on medication and home care exercises, chiropractic techniques essentially work with the body’s own healing mechanisms and ultimately can help relieve pain, promote health, increase range of motion and help auto accident victims to try to return to their normal, daily routine.
When choosing a chiropractor, patients need to be sure to select a provider that is well informed in the latest chiropractic techniques, knows the patient’s history, has the proper equipment and resources to ensure that the patient is not suffering from an injury that needs a different method of treatment or that could be exacerbated by manipulation, and that cares about promoting the recovery of the patient rather than simply pushing them through a cookie cutter treatment plan.
According to WebMD, research supports the benefits of chiropractic care for back and neck pain and relief from headaches. A vast majority of personal injury attorneys would likely attest that the majority of their clients suffering from soft tissue injuries obtain significant relief from the treatment afforded by chiropractors. And, many insurance companies now recognize the benefits of chiropractic care and include such treatment in the covered options of their plans (albeit sometimes with limitations of the number or type of treatments that are authorized).
For information about the benefits of chiropractic care, individuals injured in an auto accident should consult with their doctors about whether such care would be appropriate and set up an appointment with a chiropractor to better understand how he or she can help promote the patient’s recovery.
Additional resources provided by the author:
American Chiropractic Association (www.acatoday.org) National Center for Biotechnology Information website publication of a 1989 publication of the American Journal of Public Health (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1349822/pdf/amjph00237-0113b.pdf)
American Medical Association (www.ama-assn.org)
American Chiropractic Association
WebMD – Chiropractic Care