Immediately after an auto collision, it's common for people to wait to get treatment. Most people think, "I'll just wait to see how I feel next week." This approach can be a mistake.
A number of scientific studies show that when a patient gets early treatment soon after a crash, they have better outcomes than those patients who wait.
During a crash, the tissues of your neck can be stretched or torn. You may not feel pain right away but as the tissues become swollen and inflamed, patients often wake up the next day with a sore, stiff neck.
Pain and stiffness are signs of trauma to the ligaments and muscles of your neck. The body’s response to injury is to restrict movement and to heal the injury by sending white blood cells to the area. Your body will then begin repairing the injured area by laying down scar tissue.
The problem with scar tissue is that each joint in your neck has a fairly limited range of motion. Scar tissue reduces that motion even more, and if you don’t receive proper treatment, that can result in permanent limited mobility, chronic pain, and even spinal degeneration of the joints.
Getting early treatment will break up this pattern by increasing movement in the injured area and by preventing the development of scar tissue.
If you’ve been in a crash, it’s important to consult a health-care provider right away to prevent your symptoms from worsening. A doctor of chiropractic can help you recover from auto injuries like whiplash, headache, and neck pain.
Rosenfeld M, Gunnarsson R, Borestein P. Early intervention in whiplash-associated disorders: a comparison of two treatment protocols. Spine 2000; 25(14): :1782-7.
Rosenfeld M, Seferiadis A, Carlsson J,and Gunnarsson R. Active intervention in patients with whiplash-associated disorders. Spine 2003; 28(22):2491-8.