Dr. Kevin J. Yates

Treatment should begin as soon as possible after a car crash

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 muscles and ligament of the neck can be injured, the joints can be compressed, the nerve roots can be stretched, and the disc may be compromised. There may not be immediate pain (this is due in part to adrenalin) but as the tissues become swollen and inflamed, patients often wake up the next day with a sore, stiff neck.

Different tissues have different volumes of blood supply and therefore swell at a different rate, muscles swell faster than ligaments and ligaments swell faster than joints.

Pain and stiffness are signs of trauma to the ligaments and muscles. The body’s response to injury is to restrict movement and to heal the injury by sending white blood cells to the area to begin the repair of the injured tissue. Your body will then begin repairing the injured area by laying down scar tissue.

The problem with scar tissue is that each joint in the neck has a fairly limited range of motion. Scar tissue reduces that motion even more, and if the injured person does not 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.

Restoring motion and limiting scar tissue formation is the main benefit of chiropractic – no other profession has better results for these type injuries.  

Our office has extended hours and if the doctor is not available our P.A.’s have experience in working up and documenting the initial evaluation.


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.

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