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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Mich LAc

Why See an Acupuncturist After a Car Accident?

Did you know that Acupuncture Care after a car accident can dramatically improve your recovery and decrease healing time? The best part is that it's covered by PIP under your car insurance - so acupuncture care is covered at no out of pocket cost!

Car accidents happen in a flash and can leave people with minor to significant pain and discomfort. Regardless of how minor your injuries may seem at the scene of an accident, it's very important to seek medical treatment right away! Receiving medical attention after a car accident can dramatically shorten your recovery time and to prevent long term residual health problems and related costs.

Low Velocity vs High Velocity Car Accidents

There are two types of car accidents: 1. LOW VELOCITY: less than 10 MPH 2. HIGH VELOCITY: greater than 10 MPH. Many people experience the following problems as a result of low velocity car accidents: muscle strain, seat belt bruises, or delayed onset pain and stiffness. It's important to be aware that symptoms from low velocity MVA's can be delayed and appear up to 36 hours after the accident. Typically, High Velocity car accident victims may experience any symptoms that occur during a low velocity collision with more severe symptoms that may include: head trauma (brain bleeding), Shoulder/Knee Trauma, Contusions (cuts), Bone Fractures, Muscle Sprains, or Concussions.

Whiplash: The Most Common MVA Injury

Whiplash, also known as “Traumatic Cervical Syndrome,” occurs when neck is forced into rapid movements faster than what the bones, tendons, and ligaments can accommodate. Symptoms of Whiplash include:

  • Neck Pain/Stiffness

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Back Pain

  • Arm/Shoulder Pain

  • Mental Side Effects: Memory Loss, Poor Concentration, Nervousness, Irritability, Insomnia, Fatigue

The Best Approach to Healing STAT is Getting the Right Care at the Right Time!

It is always recommended to visit an Emergency Department immediately after an accident to be evaluated for life threatening or serious injuries.

After life threatening/surgical injuries have been evaluated and treated in the Emergency Room, care from any of the following providers may be helpful to speed your healing and recovery: Acupuncture, Massage, Physical Therapy, or Chiropractic Care.

How Can Acupuncture Help My Pain?

In the old texts of Chinese Medicine, it is recorded that “If there is free-flow, there is no pain; if there is no free-flow, there is pain.” In other words, when trauma (like a car accident) damages the tissues of the body, it causes stagnation of Qi (vital energy) and Blood in the damaged tissues. This can be visually seen as bruising and swelling, or physically experienced as pain and discomfort. It is this Qi and Blood stagnation in the tissues that causes pain. Acupuncture treats pain by activating the body’s "self healing capacity." Acupuncture increases the circulation of Qi and Blood in the body and damaged tissues. This Increased circulation of Qi and Blood restores the tissues to a normal state faster, increasing flexibility and reducing pain.

One of the differences between Acupuncture and other treatments like Massage, Chiropractic Care, or Physical Therapy is that Acupuncture is a PASSIVE THERAPY. The body does not have to be re-aligned, adjusted, stretched, or manipulated in any way during an Acupuncture Treatment. This difference is very important because exercise, stretching, and spinal adjustment immediately following an automobile accident can often cause more pain and inflammation after traumatic events rather than providing relief.

Additionally, Acupuncture is a holistic medicine, meaning it treats the body, mind, and spirit. This means that Acupuncture can also improve the mental/emotional effects that can occur after a car accident including: Stress, PTSD, Anxiety, Insomnia, or Depression.

Acupuncture Treatment is COVERED by your car insurance PIP rider! This means that in Oregon, Acupuncture Care is COMPLETELY COVERED by your car insurance following a car accident! You don't need a referral to see an acupuncturist either - just schedule your appointment! As an Acupuncturist, I specialize in MVA Care, and can get you back on the road to feeling great in no time! Call 503-868-1496 to schedule your appointment today!

What Can I Do at Home to Help My Aches and Pains?

The following home therapies can reduce pain and speed healing after a car accident:

Epsom Salt Baths: reduce muscle and soft tissue pain

Heat Therapy: Heating pad, Moxa Therapy

Topical Pain Relievers: Biofreeze, Tiger Balm

Nutritional Supplements: Bromelian, Joint Support, Calcium, and OPC3 (Antioxidants)

Other Recommendations: REST!!!

Do not engage in heavy exercise or any strenuous activity immediately after a motor vehicle accident.

For one week after your accident, don’t engage in any strenuous physical exercise. You may have a hidden injury which could become worse from activity. Hidden injuries do not show up on tests until after swelling has subsided.

The extent of your physical activity should match the healing process. Extensive physical exercise does not speed up your healing at all. In fact, it is opposite. Healing takes a lot of energy so you may expect to fatigue quicker than normal.


Cook meals at home using whole, organic foods.

Avoid processed foods, fried foods, and greasy foods.

Increase fruits and vegetables in the diet - Smoothies are great for this!


Seek medical attention for your pain.

Talk to friends and family about your stress.

Ask for help if you need it!

Should I Ice It? Well, Maybe and Maybe Not.

It is common for ice to be recommended after an injury to reduce inflammation and pain. The theory behind Cold Therapy, like an ice pack, is that the application of cold to the skin can reduce the local blood supply to the affected tissue and slow the signal transduction in the nerves, thereby reducing the swelling and pain. Unfortunately, the reduction of the blood supply to damaged tissue also reduces the nutrition and oxygen supply to the cells, speeds up cell death, and results in a prolonged healing process. Injuries treated with Cold Therapy can become chronic if Cold Therapy is not used correctly. To prevent the possible damaged caused by Cold Therapy, do not use ice for more than half hour at any given time. In Chinese Medicine, Cold is also a common CAUSE for pain in muscles, joints, and organs. Cold slows or blocks the Qi and Blood circulation to the tissues and causes pain as the result of this restricted movement. Therefore, Cold should only be used to treat Heat Signs: redness, a sensation of heat in the local area, or swelling.

TIP: If the tissue is RED, HOT, and SWOLLEN, ice may be used. If the painful area is NOT red, hot, or swollen, use Heat Therapy instead of Cold Therapy.

Always talk to a health provider if:

Symptoms persist for weeks or suddenly become worse.

You have trouble functioning at home or work.

You avoid things that remind you of the accident.

You use drugs or alcohol to cope with your pain or emotions.

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