If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident one of your main concerns may be how soon you can return to exercise and physical activity. Since the severity of each accident and the uniqueness of each individual varies the answers will never be the same for each person. Returning to physical activity too soon after a motor vehicle accident can increase your chances of re-injury or developing a chronic condition that will lead to a longer recovery. On the contrary, prolonged immobilization will accelerate atrophy and lead to deconditioning. That is why it is imperative that you seek Chiropractic care after a motor vehicle accident to understand the depth of your injury and to have the right tools to get back to exercise and physical activity.

Plan of Care After a Motor Vehicle Accident:

Seek Chiropractic care for an initial consultation that will include a concussion, musculoskeletal, neurological, biomechanical, and nutritional evaluation and examination (See Blog: How to Choose a Doctor Following a Motor Vehicle Collision). Your Chiropractor can increase the healing rate of your body by using different modalities and techniques. The services that we provide include the E-Stim machine, therapeutic ultrasound, Joint mobilizations, soft tissue massage, low level laser, diversified adjustments, acupuncture, athletic taping, cupping, and more to help the recovery rate and get you back to physical activity quicker!

The first thing is to truly understand the stages of tissue healing after an injury… This is important because most people will get back into exercise when they are still in the inflammatory phase of healing which can be detrimental to their recovery time, and cause chronic conditions down the road.

Stage I: Active Swelling (Swelling is a sign of inflammation. If you still have swelling, it is too early to return to physical activity)
– Swelling occurs for 12-72 hours -Motion is lost and pain increases
The goals of care in the Inflammatory stage of healing is to minimize pain and swelling. Your Chiropractor can use taping techniques, grade I-II mobilizations, E-Stim machine, Ice packs, compression bandaging to flush out the swelling, inflammation, and decrease pain of injured area.

Stage II: Passive Congestion
– Fluid trapped in tissues restricts motion, causes pain, & delays healing.
– Begins by 2nd to 4th day after initial injury

Goals of Care for Passive Congestion:

Remove fluid Pain Relief Begin to restore motion

Through stage II of recovery your chiropractor can use the E-Stim machine to decrease pain and swelling, passive stretching to lengthen the muscle fibers and to reduce muscle stiffness and increase connective tissue remodeling via fibroblasts, Adjustments / manipulations / mobilizations of the joints can help reduce pain, decrease muscle spasms, and increase range of motion in restricted segments. Soft tissue massage such as effleurage, friction, and trigger point therapy massage to remove fluid, and relieve pain!


– Begins 5 days after injury, scar tissue is made for up to 6 weeks

Keep in mind that lack of motion in a joint can cause excessive scar tissue in dense patterns disrupting normal function which later can cause chronic…

1. Excess scarring
2. Chronic pain & stiffness
3. Limited range of motion
4. Poor biomechanics
5. Weak musculature and ligaments
6. Loss of normal sensation
7. Poor nutrition
8. Increased risk of reinjury
9. Accelerated degeneration

Goals of Repair stage: restore normal motion, sensation, promote full healing, and relieve pain

A common mistake a few patients make is they stop seeking treatment once their pain goes away. The dysfunction can still remain so it is important that you still seek treatment even after the pain has decreased. Goals of Repair stage include restoring normal motion, sensation, promote full healing, and relieve pain. Your Chiropractor can help by using Instrument assisted soft tissue techniques such as the Graston Tool to provide a mobilizing effect to the scar tissue and myofascial adhesions. Cupping therapy is another great myofascial release technique, along with acupuncture and laser therapy to break up any scarring that has remained. Nutritional advice and programs will also be available for the patient to encourage an anti-inflammatory diet to allow the body to heal properly, along with whole food supplements. Postural exercises will also be prescribed to encourage active stretching at home.

Stage IV: Remodeling

– Connective tissue remodels for better strength and flexibility. This often takes 3-14 weeks but may take up to 1 year with severe injuries.

In the Remodeling stage of recovery your Chiropractor will help by showing you strengthening exercises to improve and maintain motion and flexibility, restore and maintain function, reduce / prevent chronic pain from arising by patient education, and will help reduce risk of reinjury and degeneration.

Injury Prevention is KEY!!!

One thing that can improve your recovery from an injury is a high level of conditioning prior to injury. Not only will being in great shape reduce your risk of injury and lessen the severity of an injury, but it also has been shown to reduce recovery time. This means to make sure you are eating anti-inflammatory foods, not starving yourself and eating adequate dense nutrient foods to fuel your body with energy, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, strength training 4 times a week, and practicing good thoughts, good deeds, and good words to keep your mental game just as strong as your physique!

Keep in mind that even when you feel 100 percent you may have deficits in strength, joint stability, flexibility or skill. Pain is not a great indicator to stop seeking treatment. Take extra care with the injured part for several months, and don’t stop seeing your Chiropractor until you are released after a full RE-evaluation of your initial injury.

For more information please make an appointment today to see Dr. Karl Petrie and Dr. Tannaz Farnoudi at American Health and Wellness Center located in Franklin Farm Shopping Center in Herndon, Virginia.

Tannaz Farnoudi D.C., ATC
13300-B Franklin Farm Rd.
Herndon, VA 20171
United States of America
Ph: (703) 787-7463
Fax: (703) 796-0516

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