Car accidents can cause a variety of physical problems, and many people seek chiropractic care or massage therapy for relief from issues such as whiplash and other aches and pains. Today’s medical experts are increasingly aware of massage therapy’s potential for facilitating health, wellness, and injury recovery, and research supports these benefits. Here are some reasons to find a massage therapist after being in a car accident:
1. Massage Therapy for a Concussion
People often hit their heads in car crashes, and the symptoms associated with these injuries can last long after an accident.
A researcher at the University of Washington Medical Center studied an intramural soccer player who experienced post-concussion symptoms after a fall. After only two massage sessions of 45 minutes each, the soccer player felt less pain, experienced fewer headaches, and needed less medication.
The researcher concluded massage therapy had realigned a subluxation (misalignment of the vertebrae) in the uppermost joint in the soccer player’s neck. In addition, massage improved balance, posture, and range of motion. After massage therapy, the soccer player was able to focus more clearly and engage in regular physical activities.
2. Massage Therapy Can Relieve Whiplash
Whiplash injuries are common in automobile and sports accidents. People who get whiplash may experience pain, stiffness, and poor range of motion, among other symptoms. Some people may feel mental or emotional symptoms such as loss of memory or focus, insomnia, and depression.
A team at Germany’s University of Ulm studied 70 patients with whiplash injuries. They found massage therapy helped them recover much faster than standard care alone. The researchers also pointed out the usefulness of other forms of care such as physical therapy. If you have whiplash, ask your physician about adding massage to your physical therapy regimen, as the combination could help speed up your recovery.
3. Massage Therapy Can Ease Neck Pain
At Seattle’s Group Health Center for Health Studies, a group of researchers determined massage was a safe treatment for neck pain, especially in the short term. People who received massage therapy once a week for 10 weeks reported reduced pain for at least four weeks after the end of these treatments.
4. Massage Therapy Can Help Manage Stress, Anxiety, and PTSD
Experts studied a group of patients in intensive care situations who received 45-minute massages from family members. The study participants showed improvements in blood pressure, respiration, and pulse rate up to three hours after receiving the massage. The researchers recommended intensive care units use safe and effective massage therapy to improve patients’ physical and psychological health.
A research team at the University of California, Los Angeles reported military veterans, who may experience mild to severe posttraumatic stress (PTSD), often turn to complementary therapies such as massage to get the help they need.
5. Massage Therapy for Spinal Cord Injuries
People injure their spines in automobile or motorcycle crashes more often than in any other situation. Roughly a third of people with spinal cord injuries received them in car crashes.
Researchers from Atlanta’s Shepherd Research Center conducted a case study on a middle-aged man with a chronic spinal cord injury. After receiving massage therapy for three consecutive days, the man could walk faster and take bigger steps. The study highlighted massage therapy’s potential to affect the musculoskeletal and neurological systems in positive ways, pointing to the value of further research into massage as a treatment method for those with spinal cord injuries.
6. Massage Therapy for Knee Injuries
People in automobile accidents often injure their knees (though not as often as heads, necks, and spines). Statistics show car crash victims often injure their Anterior Cruciate Ligaments (ACLs), as do many athletes. Massage therapy has been shown to provide pain relief and healing for people with a wide variety of knee problems.
In a case study of an active 29-year-old woman, a researcher with the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork found massage therapy was an effective complementary treatment for people recovering from knee injuries and surgeries. The woman underwent knee surgery for a skiing injury and returned to outdoor exercise (as a mountain/road cyclist) only 14 weeks later.
7. Massage Therapy for Immediate Emotional Trauma
If you’re in a car crash, you may suffer emotionally even if you do not sustain any physical injuries. Massage therapy, especially within several hours of an auto accident, can help people recover their emotional balance.
A research team at the Karolinska Institute for Neurobiology provided massage therapy to people who had recently experienced automobile accidents. Nurses gave gentle massages either over or under the patients’ clothing, depending on their comfort level. The study participants were given as many as eight sessions, roughly 45 minutes in length.
The researchers determined massage therapy helped patients recover their sense of self by providing an emotional anchor. Caring touch allowed them to experience pain alleviation and improved well-being.
Should You Get Massage Therapy After an Automobile Accident?
While it is important to check with your physician before adding massage to any type of medical care after a car accident, massage therapy typically has few side effects and provides a pharmaceutical-free option for pain relief. Ask your doctor to recommend a massage therapist who has training in addressing (or working around) your specific medical conditions.
If you’re in a car crash, consider the many benefits of massage therapy for any aches and pains. Massage treatments can help people restore physical function, live with less pain, and find emotional and physical relief after a traumatic event.
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