Important facts in regard to your recent motor vehicle collision
If your collision was today or six months ago the following information is vital to your healing. Studies suggest somewhere around 15% of the victims in an MVC do not completely heal. Your goal is to get out of pain as soon as possible. My goal will be to help you do this, but also help you not become one of the 15%.
Stages of healing: You will go through three stages of healing.
1: The acute inflammatory stage. This last from the time of injury to 72 hours. Over this time your pain will rise. Activity is important as to not loose too much range of motion in this stage but you will also need to rest. Control pain with ICE. You will be tempted to take anti-inflammatory medicine although in the first 72 hours this has been shown to suppress healing. Therefore wait to take medications like Ibuprofen and Aleve.
2: The repair stage. This stage will last from 72 hours up to 6 months. During this stage anti-inflammatory products are important... Ice is still important for the first few weeks along with activity. During this whole repair stage the tissue is still weak, even at three weeks post injury the injured tissue only has 15% of it's normal strength. Chiropractic adjustments are very important in this stage to decrease scar tissue and maintain ROM.
3: The Remodeling Stage: This stage can take from 14 weeks to 12 months. During this phase the injured tissue is laying down more collagen to remodel and reinforce the injured tissue. This is when most the scar tissue is laid down and therefore treatment is very important in this stage. There is always home care, yet in this stage what you do out of the office in regard to home exercise and stretching is just as important as your adjustments here.
Depending on the severity of your injuries from the MVC you have or will be graded from a grade I to a grade IV. Your grade will be based on your limits of motion, ligament injury, neurological signs, fractures or disc injury. Your grade will determine your course of treatment. No matter what stage you have entered the office, your care is important and there are specific things that must be done to help you heal to your ultimate potential.
Ice: No matter what stage of healing you are in, ice will help decrease pain. Place a protective paper towel or shirt between you and the area that is in pain for 10 min. For stage one repeat hourly if you can. For the other stages use ice for pain control.
Heat: Do not start any heat treatment for at least one week after treatment. Heat for up to ten minutes. I always caution using heat. Only use moist heat, not a dry heating pad. Remember heat will bring in more inflammation which increases pain and tissue damage. You can repeat this a few times for an inflammation pump. Always end in ice! You may also use a short (5 min) of moist heat before you stretch or exercise the effected area. Do not heat and then go to bed.
Active rest: During the first few weeks your head will feel heavy. Rest on a rolled up towel laid under your neck while lying on a hard floor with legs bent for about 10. You can do this a few times a day all the way through your treatment. Do not rest too much or your neck muscles will start to splint and you will loose range of motion of the neck. It is much easier to keep range of motion than it is to regain it.
Stretching: You will be given range of motion exercises and stretches. Do them at least once an hour the first week after the MVC.
Chiropractic adjustments: The chiropractic adjustment is very important in regard to your healing. This treatment to fixated joints will promote healing by decreasing inflammation in the area, increase joint mobility, decrease scar tissue and increasing the fluid that is produced in the joint. For many patients treatment is daily for the first week in order to limit splinting of the muscles and help keep the cervical spine'sROM.
I have had the privilege of treating thousands of whiplash patients since becoming a chiropractor in 1993. I have witnessed that patients that are consistent with care reach their fullest potential of healing much faster than those that are inconsistent with treatment in the office. Your treatment plan is well thought out to promote healing in a timely fashion. Missed appointments will slow your healing and may result in prolonged or chronic pain.