I treat a lot of pain. In fact, I LOVE treating pain. Pain is the most common complaint we Americans associate with acupuncture, and patients limp, wince, and hobble my way on a daily basis.
I often hear the same thing when digging into the history of a patient’s pain: They were in a car accident, way back when, and the pain still comes and goes. Following the accident, they were directed to the ER or their primary care physician. Having escaped major physical trauma, they were given a prescription for pain killers or muscle relaxants and left to fend for themselves. They took their medication, spent a day or two resting, then jumped back into life with little more support. When their pain lingered, they reached for some Ibuprofen and felt grateful that something more serious hadn’t happened. That’s when mild whiplash symptoms began progressing into chronic headaches. Stress and restless sleep became ongoing insomnia. Their bruise from the seat belt turned into a chronically weak shoulder, etc. If those patients had known that acupuncture was available to them following their car accident, injuries could have been properly addressed, and chronic pain patterns halted.
Here’s the skinny on acupuncture coverage following a motor vehicle accident. Oregon requires all drivers to carry a minimum of $15,000 in coverage through their Personal Injury Protection, or PIP. PIP pays relevant medical expenses within the first year following an auto accident. This includes acupuncture, naturopathic care, massage, physical therapy, chiropractic work, etc. These services, as long as they are related to your auto accident, are covered, even if you don’t have acupuncture coverage through regular health insurance. They also apply to passengers in a car, and cyclists and pedestrians hit by a car.
So why think “Acupuncture!” following a MVA?
- Acupuncture reduces pain and inflammation
- Improves range of motion
- Decreases stress and anxiety
- Speeds recovery time following a traumatic event, without relying on pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures
The big take home message, is that immediate care following a traumatic event can impact your health for years to come. We often don’t feel the full effects of an accident right away, so it’s important to get checked out by a trusted practitioner…and with acupuncture and other care available through your PIP, there is no reason not to. We only get one body, and pain doesn’t have to be a part of it.
By Anne Carruth, Acupuncturist and Oriental Medicine Practitioner