Have you been in a car accident over the last year? If so, I’m sure it was scary, and probably led to a frustrating headache of paperwork, lawyers and insurance companies. Were you aware that most benefits extend to treatments like acupuncture and chiropractic care? Let’s talk about how natural remedies and medicine can help you recover from a car accident and how to access it with a personal injury claim.
8 Common Car Accident Injuries
- Neck/Back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
Get evaluated by a naturopathic doctor as soon as possible
The general recommendation is to be evaluated by a clinician within 72 hours of the accident. Your body will be most responsive to initial treatment within that time. Injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents can be resistant to therapy and require a lot of time for treatment, and it may take some time to fully address your injuries. Thankfully, naturopathic and natural treatments are available for superior healing.
I am a Naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist, specializing in physical medicine and pain management, and can offer you acupuncture, chiropractic care (manual adjustments), physical therapy, and a host of herbal and nutraceutical options.
Car accident healing with acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, and herbs
Calming chronic pain
Acupuncture is a powerful option for chronic pain.
- Stimulates feel-good, pain relieving brain chemicals like endorphins, natural opioids (the ones your body produces itself), dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
- Tunes down hyperactive local nerves (this is why chronic pain can exist for much longer than it takes for an injury to heal).
- Promotes quicker healing (especially with electro-acupuncture), better blood flow, and stimulates the “rest, relax, and heal” branch of the nervous system.
More and more studies, (mostly involving military veterans 2,3), offer evidence that acupuncture can treat PTSD, specifically insomnia. Botanical/herbal medicine and nutraceuticals are another great option. They gently rebalance brain chemistry, promote a positive mood, and improve sleep. These are best used in conjunction with acupuncture. There is emerging evidence supporting those same therapies as effective in improving symptoms of traumatic brain injuries, and post-concussion syndrome. 1, 2, 3
Treating complex whiplash
I experienced whiplash at the age of 18 in a serious head-on collision that I probably shouldn’t have walked away from. The whole experience of the accident and resultant whiplash was surreal and terrifying, and I would describe it like it felt like getting hit by a train. Other descriptions from patients have been “like the fist of God”, and “my head thrown across the room”. Add in the confusion over insurance, treatment, and it only gets worse. My heart goes out to you if you’ve had this experience, and you are looking for straight-forward answers.
Whiplash is a series of muscle, tendon, and ligament sprains, and may feature disc bulges or herniations, which often lead to compression of spinal nerves and radiating nerve pain. It is complex and may take longer to treat. I will use a variety of treatments in addition to acupuncture, including chiropractic and osteopathic techniques. Massage, physical therapy and physiotherapy devices, and other east Asian medical tools like cupping and gua sha can help muscles relax and regain proper function.
Healing broken bones
We can even speed up the healing of broken bones with herbal medicine (there are many chinese herbal formulas that have developed for this over centuries for use as military medicine) and nutraceuticals, and further assisted by electroacupuncture targeting accessible areas nearby the fracture.
Use PIP claims to pay for naturopathic care
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance is an extension of car insurance that covers medical expenses. In Oregon, $15,000 is the minimum required PIP coverage, and many people choose to have higher amounts. You are covered even as a vehicle passenger, bicyclist, or pedestrian. And many plans cover “complementary and alternative medicine”, including acupuncture, chiropractic, and naturopathic medicine. It can be helpful to meet with a lawyer and their legal fees, including initial consultation, will also be covered by your insurance.
How long will it take to heal
When first beginning a post accident treatment protocol, frequent visits are key, ideally two or three times per week. More visits will allow the treatment benefit to accumulate, and you’ll make faster progress towards healing.
Straightforward musculoskeletal issues, like neck or back sprains, bruises, and broken bones, can take a few weeks or months to be fully healed. If your pain is chronic or you have whiplash, then healing might take 3 to 6 months. For more complex issues, like concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and PTSD, progress may be slow over the course of the coverage year, and you may need treatment beyond what is covered by car insurance.
Bookmark this page with your car insurance information
You will never know when a car accident will occur, and that’s why you have car insurance. You are probably diligent about paying your premiums and keeping your car insurance information close at hand. Now is the perfect time to prepare further, and have trusted healthcare resources ready should the worst happen.
Natural medicine has so much to offer. Beyond treatments and adjustments, I am ready to work with you as an individual in pain, someone who has experienced a traumatic event. I would love the opportunity to meet with you and discuss a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan that will best suit your needs.
Dr. Grady Nesbitt is a naturopathic physician at Heart Spring Health in Portland, Oregon whose mission is to provide same day pain relief so that you can fully enjoy all that life has to offer. Using a diversity of modalities such as acupuncture, spinal adjustments, and physiotherapy devices, combined with naturopathic staples such as herbal medicine, homeopathy, and nutritional counseling, Dr. Nesbitt provides solutions for sports injuries, all types of chronic and acute pain, and degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. His skills were acquired over nine years of medical training and orthopedic focused preceptorships at both the prestigious National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) and Bastyr University, as well as decades of athletic pursuit. Click here to learn more about Dr. Nesbitt.
- Stuart et al. Acupuncture for whiplash-associated disorder following road traffic collision: a physiotherapy service evaluation Aug 2020 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32026700/
- Lee et al. Acupuncture for treating whiplash-associated disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis protocol Oct 2018 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30313054/
- Huang et al. Acupuncture for Treatment of Persistent Disturbed Sleep: A Randomized Clinical Trial in Veterans With Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Dec 2018 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30549498/