There are as many physical therapy regimens as there are doctors prescribing this form of treatment. Basically, the regimens include passive treatment such as heat application, cold application, ultrasound, and massage, as well as active treatments, such as exercises. The passive treatments are commonly used during the initial recovery phase after the patient has undergone a bed rest. Again, the objective is to reduce the pain and increase mobility.
Active or exercise treatments may be beneficial in several ways. First, after a period of inactivity, it is important to increase mobility slowly and carefully so as to avoid straining the affected area. Secondly, exercises can strengthen the stomach and back muscles, improving the patient’s posture and helping to resolve the condition and avoid recurrence. Third, participation in an active program with a therapist can go a long way toward convincing a patient of his or her ability to resume normal activities without being re-injured. Many people who suffer a neck or back injury in an accident are extremely apprehensive about resuming their normal activities. A controlled and monitored exercise program can be truly therapeutic in this regard.
Many chiropractors and osteopaths also recommend the use of a cervical pillow to ensure that the cervical spine is maintained in alignment if a patient rests or sleeps. Chiropractors generally recommend against sleeping in the prone position, as it may resultt in excessive rotation stress in the upper cervical spine.
I work closely with several great chiropractors in San Francisco, who have a thorough understanding of the human muscle tissue and the mechanics of joints and nerves, and who do an outstanding job relieving the pain symptoms of many people injured in car accident, motorcycle accident and other injuries. However, it is very important to be aware of the general perception of chiropractors in the community and particularly in the insurance business. Whether the skepticism toward them is fair or not, is not the question. The reality is, at least today, that the medical opinion of chiropractors, although has a weight, is significantly inferior to that of an M.D. (medical doctor) or especially a surgeon (such as orthopedic surgeon) or a neurologist.
Why is this information important? – Many people who suffer serious injuries in car accidents or other injury incidents go to see a chiropractor shortly after sustaining an injury, undergo 3-4 months of chiropractic treatment and don’t bother to see any other physicians. This is common and significant mistake, especially in cases involving serious injuries, because only receiving a chiropractic treatment is likely to dramatically reduce their potential settlement with the insurance company or any recover through a court action. The insurance company will necessarily argue that the claimant wasn’t injured as badly, because if he were, he would have gone to see a “real” doctor. Remember, it’s not how badly you are injured but it’s what you can prove that determines the outcome of your injury case.
Therefore, if you suffer an injury, it’s very important that you see a medical doctor shortly after the incident. The doctor will likely refer you for further evaluation, such as MRI, Cat Scan, etc.., and will recommend that you see a specialist, such as orthopedic surgeon, neurosurgeon or another specialist as might be necessary. You may supplement your treatment with seeing a chiropractor, but if you sustained a serious injury, chiropractic treatment should never be the only medical care you receive.