Motor vehicle accidents (MVA) are a hazard of modern life, but auto injuries can vary from mild to severe. It is also common after an auto collision for symptoms to increase over the first few weeks with the process of inflammation. In many cases you may be tempted to wait before seeking care in the hopes that your injuries are mild enough to resolve on their own, but there are several reasons that this may not be best even for mild cases. If injury such as a sprain or strain is present, it will go through the healing process, including the acute injury, inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling.
During the acute injury, right after the accident, you may be experiencing pain and be shaken from the accident. However, often right after an auto collision you may not have pain or may even be without symptoms. As symptoms may not be very severe at this point you may feel that you were not injured or that your injuries are very mild.
Typically, over the next few days to weeks symptoms increase as inflammation presents. Symptoms may appear in areas that were symptom-free immediately after the accident. The delayed onset of symptoms can lead to delayed care. In the proliferation phase of healing your body begins cleaning up damaged tissues and lays down new connective tissue. This new connective tissue is grown as quickly as possible to cover the injury and is much like scar tissue. The fiber direction is varied and often does not line up well with the normal functional tissue. Additionally, it can adhere to surrounding tissues resulting in painful adhesions.
Treatment performed by a Chiropractor in this phase helps to maintain normal range of motion and mobility as you heal. Joint and soft tissue work help aligned healing tissues with the normal healthy fiber direction and prevent adhesions with surrounding tissues from forming.
Following the proliferation phase is the remodeling phase. In this phase, the newly healed tissues remodel the random fiber direction of the connective tissues into a more orderly and functional pattern. This remodeling is promoted by functional activities and body movements such as walking, working, and the daily activities of life. This can be hindered by pain such as from painful adhesions, or by excessive cautiousness that may result from aversion to pain formed in the earlier stages. Constant aversion to pain may lead to chronic pain, in which the physical healing process of the tissues has progressed, but pain remains. You may be tempted to exercise less because of pain, tightness, or tiredness, which can reinforce pain sensation in the nervous system.
Chiropractic treatment initiated late in the healing process is helpful, as remodeling of tissues, chronic pain, persistent symptoms can be addressed, but late treatment can take more time and be less effective than if treatment was sought earlier in the healing process before problem adhesions form or chronic pain and aversion to pain develop. Less severe injuries from auto accidents go through the healing process as well, but without proper care and treatment complications can result such as soft tissue adhesions or persistent chronic symptoms.
Chiropractic care is uniquely positioned among the healing disciplines to address soft tissue and joint injury that result from car accidents. It is important to visit a chiropractic clinic quickly if you have been involved in an auto accident.