What is Manipulation Under Anesthesia and Can It Help After a Car Accident?

Doctor David Jenkins Orlando Chiro

Written by: Dr. David Jenkins

Published: December 22nd, 2020

Manipulation under anesthesia is a way to use mobilization along with traction and stretching to a patient who is under anesthesia. This usually means the patient has been given either a moderate sedative or general anesthesia. When someone has pain, scar tissue and a limited range of motion, such as after a serious car accident, manipulation under anesthesia can help them to improve significantly through this treatment. It can give patients more degrees of motion as well as alleviate pain.

Fibrosis Release

When the tissues are manipulated during this procedure, it is done to break up the scar tissue and other fibrous tissue so that the patient can use this part of the body better. It's a manual type of therapy that allows the tissues to be moved far more than when patients are awake and conscious. The first step is to administer sedation to the patient either with an IV medication that will render them unconscious or injections that will remove feeling from a specific area. Both of these methods can be used to keep the patient comfortable while the manipulation is being performed.

Once the patient has been sedated, the doctor can begin to mobilize and manipulate joints as well as use techniques for myofascial release. Chiropractors that are certified in manipulation under anesthesia can then begin to manipulate tissues until adhesions that are around certain joints can be broken up manually. This is a helpful type of treatment when the patient has motion that has been restricted by fibrous tissue or the function of that area of the body has been limited. Often, the motion and use of the area is restricted because of pain when it is moved. When the fibrous tissue is broken up and no longer restrictive, the pain and stiffness can be relieved.

One reason that this is done is that the amount of force used to break up the fibrous tissue is less when the patient is under anesthesia. When the patient is awake and can feel the area, he will involuntarily offer some resistance to the manipulation of the joints. Because there is none of this when the patient is under anesthesia, less force is needed to break up those tissues.

Outpatient Procedure

This type of therapy is often done when other methods of treatment have failed. It can also be done when excessive pain has made it difficult to engage in physical therapy and medication has been found to be ineffective. Often, there is a period of time in which multiple other methods have to be tried before this procedure is considered.

Because this procedure is outpatient, there is very little downtime expected with this form of therapy. It is usually done in a hospital or surgery clinic, especially when general anesthesia is used. After waking up, the patient may be groggy but should be ambulatory. Because this is a relatively quick method of treatment with so little downtime, many people choose this when they need help getting back to their normal daily tasks.

Manipulation After Car Accidents

When a patient has been in a car accident, there may be several different places that become painful and stiff because of the scar tissue that develops in those areas. Or, there may be one area that is painful and difficult to use. In either case, manipulation under anesthesia can give you a good result. It has been shown to increase the use of the area and to relieve some of the pain. After a car accident, it's common to have an injury to an arm, leg, back or to one specific joint. Not getting the right treatment can cause a worse quality of life for the accident victim.

When other types of therapy fail, patients who have been through a car accident don't have to have surgery on that area. They can get this effective means of manipulation and expect to have better movement and an increase in their quality of life. Scar tissue after an accident may take some time to build up and cause problems. But when it does, it can severely restrict movement. It may make performing your job impossible or otherwise impact your life. You may also need other treatments like surgeries on other areas that have been injured.

Because it is non-invasive, manipulation under anesthesia is quick and easy for patients. It can help them to get back some of the mobility they had before the accident without having to go into surgery to get it. The effects can be felt right away instead of waiting weeks to see whether it was helpful as with physical therapy. Because it does not use pain medication or other long-term medications, it is better for a wider range of patients who need relief from their post-accident pain and stiffness.

And because so little force is needed when the patient has been put under anesthesia, patients don't have to expect days of soreness after the therapy has been completed. They can expect a quick recovery without the pain that can come after a more invasive procedure. Instead, patients wake up with more movement and less pain and stiffness, and these results will last.

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