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Should I Get Physical Therapy After A Car Accident?

So today I would like to talk to you about a question that I often see on forums online or I have been ask by patients is…
Is physical therapy or physiotherapy appropriate after a car accident? 
My answer today’s is 100%, Yes!
Of course you would want to work with a PT who has experience in treating  car accident patients.  It’s kind of a completely different beast compared to working with a patient with a simple injury.

When you have a car accident, there is a lot of flare ups from your nervous system that is happening… Something called reflexogenic guarding that makes your entire body kind of guards and tighten up. This is why even though initially you might have had pain just in your neck, you now feel pain in your shoulder blades… in your mid-back and lower back and maybe potentially in your hips as well… Just from when you move your neck.

So all of that needs to be dealt appropriately in a very effective and very specific matter by your physical therapist.
What I see a lot of the time is patient that go to decide to join a gym at that time, or work with a personal trainer, or have manipulation done at their chiropractor for example.  That tends to flare ups things. Some of these things are way too aggressive to begin with.

The key to get better is to first decrease that reflexogenic guarding, that nervous system inflammation. So that’s something you you might have to take some medication for and you should talk about as well with your physician. 

But in order to  progressively make improvements in your mobility, range of motion, and regaining your range and strength, it is a process that takes a little bit of time and trial and error at time.

Another question I am being asked is “are massage appropriate after a car accident?”
My answer to this is it depend what kind of massage. In my experience, any type of deep massage or fairly aggressive massage tends to make your symptoms flare-ups… Because it doesn’t take very much after when you have all that guarding and inflammation to flare you up.  Generally, a regular massage,  such as what you would consider a relaxation massage, or a Swedish massage, will tend to exacerbate her symptoms, and in my experience people will respond way better with very light myofascial release type approach until everything is a come down, and then you should be able to resume your regular massage. But that can take a few months before you are able to tolerate that.

​If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot us an email at pierre@butheauphysio.com.

If you are living in the Greater Seattle Area and need help returning to normal living due to neck, back, ribs or limb pain, reach out to us. (425) 281-4171.
Butheau Physiotherapy
​9965 10th Ave SW
​Seattle, WA 98106

We Help People in Seattle Stay Active, Regain Strength & Balance, Recover From Or Avoid Surgeries And Pain Medications With In Clinic, & Online Physical Therapy Excellence

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1 thought on “Should I Get Physical Therapy After A Car Accident?”

  1. Thanks for pointing out that there are a lot of flare-ups from our nervous system that is happening when we have a car accident so we would want to work with a PT. This is really informative since my husband got into a car accident last week while driving home. He is hoping to find occupational medicine on Monday that can provide affordable physical therapy to relieve the pain from his left leg.

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