Aloha, Beaverton, Salem, & Keizer Chiropractor Discusses Four Phases of Care Following Whiplash Injury

Whiplash injuries are very common after a car accident. When you go to your Chiropractor, the chiropractic treatments may involve four phases of care. These four phases of care are as follows:

There are four distinct phases of treatment that each patient can choose to receive. Each phase gives separate and distinct benefits to the patient. Each specific phase outlined below takes a different time frame to accomplish, depending on the clinical condition upon initial presentation at the time treatment begins.

The four phases of care consist of the following:

Phase I: Acute or Relief Phase of Care

Phase I consists of acute or relief phase of care. Acute care is the inflammatory phase and can last up to 72 hours. This is when there is a lot of inflammation, swelling and pain due to micro-tearing of ligaments, and muscles. Most commonly damaged ligaments are: anterior longitudinal ligament, capsular ligament, and interspinous ligament. Damage of the facets and torn discs, or disc protrusions are common. The supporting muscles of the spine can also be damaged. Damage to these areas can result in pinched nerves, weakness, tingling, numbness and weakness of the muscles. During this phase you may receive a more gentle type of chiropractic adjustment with ice-packs, and gentle therapy modalities. The purpose of treatment in this phase is to reduce pain, inflammation, swelling and facilitate healing with gentle chiropractic adjustments and therapies.

Phase II: Corrective phase of care

The Corrective phase generally can range between 3 days to 6 to 8 weeks after the injury. This is when the spinal injury is generally past the acute stage. Treatment is geared towards correcting the underlying cause of the problem. Treatment may consist of chiropractic spinal adjustments, physical therapy modalities, and gentle exercises. Instructions in good body mechanics and using proper posture when doing activities of daily living is given. Once patient is pain free in the gentle and stretching exercises, core exercises are introduced, and graduation to strengthening exercises is facilitated.

Phase III: Strengthening phase of care

The Strengthening phase can take from 3 weeks to 12 months depending on the extent of injury, age, degenerative joint disease, arthritis and general health of the patient. If a patient has diabetes, or other health problems, and is over weight or obese faster results may be hindered or delayed. Although chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy modalities can be performed in this stage, focus of treatment is a more aggressive strengthening exercise program in order to strengthen the weakened muscles as a result of the whiplash injury. Exercising of the smaller muscles of the spine is very important as well, keeping in mind not to aggravate the spinal condition by being too aggressive. Exercises are geared towards patient tolerance, and ability. Graduation of exercises to a home care exercise program is encouraged. The goal is for the patient to learn the exercises in the clinical setting, and to also practice them at home so as to re-train the muscles on a daily basis.

PHASE IV: Maintenance or Supportive Care

Maintenance or supportive phase of care is geared towards maintaining optimal results or supportive care if there is a "flare-up" due to activities of daily living. After the patient has reached maximum medical improvement or a medically stationary status. Patient may choose Maintenance or supportive care. However, this is based on patient’s personal choice and is left to the patient and is on a case by case basis.

Each phase of care is important, and lasts a specific amount of time. There may be an overlap of the above noted phases. For example Phase II and Phase III may overlap slightly, in that your are getting chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy modalities and active rehabilitation and strengthening exercises for several weeks. It is all based on the patient's specific spinal injury and state of health. As already noted above patient's general state of health that can complicate a patient’s recovery. These complicating factors are age, degenerative joint disease, arthritis, deconditioned state, and other conditions such as obesity, diabetes, smoking and general health of the person.

If you have recently been in a car accident or have a work injury, the chiropractors at First Choice Chiropractic and Rehabilitation offer award winning and comprehensive treatments designed to help your body recover after a car accident or work injury. Call us today at (503) 390-1552 in our Salem, Keizer office, and (503) 642-2845 in our Aloha, Beaverton office. We offer Physical Therapy, Chiropractic Adjustments, and massage to help you get back to health quickly as possible. Most Auto Accident insurance companies recognize the benefits of Chiropractic and offer 100% coverage if you are hurt in a car accident or have sustained a work injury. Call our office now! Our Award Winning Chiropractor Doctors and Staff are standing by to help you! Visit us at: www.autoinjuryhelpnow.com in our Aloha, & Beaverton clinic, and www.salemautoinjurychiropractor in our Salem, Keizer Clinic.

April 16, 2013
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Sunita Bhasin