Massage and other Alternative Therapies for Post- Accident Care.

Or: Why Your Body needs a Tune-up, too.

So you’ve been in a car accident. You’ve collected insurance information, pictures, police reports and, somehow, you managed to keep your cool. Now all you want to do is go relax. A massage would be a great thing, right?

 Massage and Post-accident Pain

So why does massage help post accident? Think about the last time you missed a step, twisted your ankle, or otherwise had to suddenly correct your balance. Your whole body tensed up in anticipation of action. Add to this the sudden back-and-forth motion typical in a car accident, and the muscles react in all the wrong ways. In a rear-end collision, your head moves BACKWARD quickly on your neck (as your body and the car get shoved forward). The muscles in the back of the neck tighten as the attempt to control and react to this sudden movement. Then, as your head whips FORWARD (as your body and the car settle back) those muscles are yanked on while shortened. Tears in the muscle are common at this point. Over the next hours or days, your neck muscles swell, bruise, and spasm in reaction to these tears.
Swelling, bruising, and spasming- exactly the type of injuries massage and other alternative care are good for. Add to that stress, ‘guarding’ the rest of your body from the pain, and possible misalignment of the spine, and even a minor accident can become a big deal to your body. Anti-inflammatories and pain killers mask this reaction, but they don’t really solve it. Your body needs to be reminded to relax, to move, to clean out the swelling and bruising.
I always say “Your body is a machine. But, it’s not a well-oiled machine!” Just as you take your car to the shop after an accident, you need to take your body in for a tune-up as well- and to check for any damage to the chassis.

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CC Image courtesy of Paul Swansen on Flickr

Massage and Insurance

So, will your insurance cover your massage?
Well…… maybe. But make sure you do it the right way.
Massage and insurance have a love-hate…. Well, maybe like-hate….. well, maybe tolerate-hate relationship with each other. Why? Because the modern medical system is ‘pound of cure’, and massage, like most other alternative therapies, are ‘ounce of prevention’. Insurance adjusters and claims managers are trying to spend the least possible (it’s just a business for them), so if you aren’t in pain RIGHT NOW, they may think you don’t need care.
The best way to deal with this after a car accident is to get a referral. I know, you really don’t want to see a doctor after an accident (just one more thing to take care of!) but believe me, a 30 minute appointment to get a proper, acceptable diagnoses now can save you hours of phone calls and months of negotiation later. While you are there, ASK for a referral to your massage therapist or preferred alternative care provider. Don’t just assume they will give it to you if you need it. While holistic or integrated medical care is certainly on the rise, your doctor may still not offer it on their own for a variety of reasons.
A prescription for care can also help you if for some reason your case ends up acrimonious and you need to involve a lawyer. Juries in general still don’t like soft-tissue care such as provided by massage or even chiropractors. You have a much better chance of keeping control of the situation if it was established right from the start that you needed all levels of care, even if you didn’t need an ambulance.

Take care of your body as well as your car, and your recovery will go much more smoothly.

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