Treatment for Pain During Litigation

April 27, 2015

In the cases of motor vehicle accidents, or indeed any sort of accident involving litigation, it’s been a common misconception that patients don’t get better until after the litigation is settled, or at least that that’s when most gains are able to be had. The major theories about this are based on stress and the possibility of monetary gain. In low back pain in particular, pain after a motor vehicle accident is often described as “soft tissue pain” and/or dismissed as a neurosis. However, according to the May 1994 edition of Spine, this is not the case.

In an article titled “Successful Treatment of Low Back Pain and Neck Pain after a Motor Vehicle Accident despite Litigation” the authors note that low back pain and neck pain often follow motor vehicle accidents, but without any apparent structural source. Despite this, previous studies have found that 44% of individuals with whiplash after a motor vehicle accident who have pain, but no other symptoms, still have long-term affects the following year. This number jumps to 81% if they also had decreased range of motion after the injury and 90% with both decreased range of motion and neurological symptoms.

What this study did, however, was to examine 39 individuals involved in litigation after being injured in a motor vehicle accident. All had no history of back or neck pain prior to the accident. All were treated while their litigation was ongoing and until they reached full functionality with no pain, or maximum benefit. 27 patients were still working when they began treatment, but 38 were able to work by the end of treatment. None of the legal cases were finished being settled until after treatment was completed.

Although not a solely chiropractic study, the benefits of chiropractic for neck and low back pain are already pretty well known. Instead, it should be known that if you’ve been in an accident and are worried about any kind of litigation that you’re going through, don’t put off getting some treatment. It’s much more beneficial to get treated sooner rather than later, and the idea that the stress or “potential monetary gain” of the lawsuit is a hindrance to improvement doesn’t seem to hold water.


--Joshua J. J. Jorde D.C.

Read the abstract here