Should I See a Chiropractor After a Car Accident?


If you’re involved in a car accident, it’s very common to experience neck and back pain afterward, even if nothing appears to be “broken” and you don’t have any open cuts or obvious bruises. Sometimes, a person’s body is so flooded with adrenaline that they don’t feel any pain immediately after the crash, but as the hours and days pass by, the pain starts to set in. Suddenly, they’re experiencing debilitating neck and back pain, and maybe even headaches or migraines.

After a collision, it may be wise to make a trip to an emergency room, especially when you’re concerned you’ve broken a bone or you have cuts that need to be treated. Same if you suspect a concussion; it’s smart to be seen by an ER doctor or at least your primary care physician within 24 hours of the accident. But what about a chiropractor? Should you see one and if so, when should you see one?

When Should You See a Chiropractor?

Certain types of injuries are serious enough that they warrant a trip to the ER, maybe even in an ambulance. It comes down to common sense. But what if you don’t think you need to see a regular doctor, but a chiropractor? After a car accident, it’s always wise to see a chiropractor regardless if you go to the ER or not. If you did not experience head trauma or broken bones, you may not feel an ER visit is necessary, but a chiropractic visit is.

For one, after an accident, you should always seek some type of medical attention and a chiropractor qualifies as medical attention. In my experience, the most common type of injury experienced in a car accident is whiplash.

“Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip. Whiplash is commonly caused by rear-end car accidents. But whiplash can also result from sports accidents, physical abuse and other types of traumas, such as a fall. Whiplash may be called a neck sprain or strain, but these terms also include other types of neck injuries,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

While Mayo Clinic says to see a doctor if you have any neck pain or other whiplash symptoms after you’ve been in an accident, I advise seeing a chiropractor after a car accident, even if you are not in any pain (yet). Not only do you want to get prompt medical attention, but a chiropractor can rule out broken bones and other damage that can cause your symptoms to get worse if ignored.

One other thing: After an accident, it’s vital to seek medical attention and for insurance purposes, a chiropractor counts as medical attention. If you fail to see a chiropractor or a doctor within 24 to 72 hours of a car accident, the insurance company can argue that you couldn’t have been that hurt and they can deny your claim.

Related: Is Colorado a Fault Car Accident State?