Treatment for Motor Vehicle Accidents
Auto accidents are unique and complex injuries that affect your nervous system, spine, muscles, and fascia. It's really important that you're able to get effective and thorough bodywork after an accident as the most significantly injured system is generally the myofascial system. We want to do everything we can to help you come to a complete recovery to avoid long term and cumulative effects.
When your body goes through this type of trauma there are stages that must be recognized and addressed in order to help the body access full recovery:
Even after a relatively minor accident our bodies seem to experience a level of shock that can often cause people to think that they are not injured when in fact they are. It's always a good idea to go home and rest after being cleared for serious injury by a physician. Even if you feel ok and think you could go to work or keep previously made plans. Rest, drink plenty of water, let your nervous system recover.
Over the course of one to three days following an accident it's very common for pain and tension to progressively increase throughout our bodies. This is the result of myofascial strain patterns developing. This is an adaptation to help prevent further injury by creating more structure to hold us together. Our body is trying to protect us the only way it knows how. At this stage (as long as no more serious injury is present) we can begin offering really gentle touch such as somatic unwinding techniques, craniosacral, and craniosacral holds to settle the body and allow it to start to soften that armoring. Frequently massage and other manual therapy techniques are offered too soon, too hard, and too fast while our bodies are still coming down from the initial injury. Our goal in these first appointments is just to calm the nervous system down and let our bodies know that touch is safe and healing. Even though these initial techniques are super gentle that can still bring about significant changes in our bodies. We can experience a wide range of effects from great relief to initial soreness, to wanting to sleep more than usual. This is a result of your unique nervous system coming back into balance and releasing some initial tension. This stage of treatment often lasts between 1-4 weeks depending on how your body is responding. This is also the stage where we will be addressing the energetic and emotional trauma of the accident. You might be experiencing sleeplessness, fear or tension in the car, and hypervigillence. Addressing the nervous system with these gentle treatment techniques will help prevent those effects from sticking around.
This is where we spend most of our time during the course of treatment. Here we will be assessing where you are each week (twice a week if also an option), what has been causing you the most pain, where you're discovering new restrictions, and what has been and is continuing to be most effective. We may use any number of treatment modalities including circulatory massage, hydrotherapy, deep tissue (with a gentle approach), myofascial release, craniosacral, and neuromuscular therapies (among others). One week we might focus on neck pain and headache, the next tension in the hip flexors, and the next could be focusing on regaining nerve sensation in your hands. We will be addressing things as they arise and recording progress. This is a period where you might feel overwhelmed by how much treatment you're getting. Sometimes people will start out with chiropractic, massage, acupunture, AND physical therapy and get to a point where it all starts to feel overwhelming. Remember it's YOUR claim and your body. You get to decide what is most healing for you. You can start out wanting something and decide later you want something different. It's ok and we want you to feel empowered to get what you need for your continued healing. At some point you will start feeling like yourself again. You will want to go for a hike or push yourself a little harder. Sometimes you take two steps forward and one step back. Sometimes it feels like you're all better and then you're not. Healing is a process and we will be there to remind you how far you've come. The truth is you are getting stronger and will continue to do so. Sometimes we do hit genuine plateaus where something isn't getting better in the time period we would expect. At that point we might recommend seeing someone with more letters behind their names and/or asking your doctor for imaging. We will be honest and straightforward with you. We want you to get better.
Once you're consistently feeling better it's usually a good idea to start to slowly taper your treatments. It's common for aches and pains to flare back up as you come back into balance and we like to make sure we can address those things with less frequent sessions. Usually we would move from weekly to twice a month to every three weeks and then do a few monthly sessions. This gives you time to figure out how to sustain all the progress and healing without the constant bodywork, develop your self care strategies, and make sure you're really doing ok (a weekly massage can make you think you're more pain free than you actually are). We like to do this before you run out of benefits so that we get to have this nice transition time where you can come back when you need to. It's your responsibility to know when you're coming to the end of your claim. We aren't able to keep track of other treatments you get outside of RituaLuna Wellness. So let us know when it feels like a good time to start making this transition. We will also suggest it when we see that you're maintaining the treatments week to week.