By Danisha Bogue, L.Ac. - June 6, 2022
Categories: General

Car accidents are a fact of life for most of us. Especially if you live in the city, chances are you see or hear about auto accidents almost every day. In fact, in a report by Esurance, 77% of drivers have been in at least one car accident. And even minor fender benders can leave you feeling sore. A lot of us tend to have a “walk it off” mentality when it comes to minor injuries or soreness, but it’s important to get a “tune up” after an incident like this so it doesn’t turn into something worse. 

How does Traditional Chinese Medicine see injuries?

We’ve talked before about how illnesses and chronic pain are usually caused by imbalances in your Qi. Whether you have too much Qi, too little, or it just gets stuck and stagnates, it can manifest in physical symptoms like pain, or even emotional symptoms!

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, injuries like those you’ll get from an auto accident are a form of acute Qi and Blood stasis. This means that a sudden impact or movement has caused your Qi to suddenly accumulate and get “stuck” in the area of your injury. The goal of TCM in cases like this is to get that Qi flowing properly again to restore balance. 

Most of us probably grew up on the R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) theory of treating injuries. And it’s often still recommended, even though modern research has indicated that it might not be the best treatment. When we treat with R.I.C.E., we are attempting to decrease the inflammation by limiting the circulation to the area. The problem with this is that our bodies use inflammation to increase circulation to injured areas so that the immune system can remove and replace damaged cells with new healthy ones. So when we limit inflammation, we’re also limiting our own healing!

Now, inflammation can cause problems when it becomes chronic or excessive. And that is where Traditional Chinese Medicine has the leg up. It’s all about restoring balance, rather than fighting the body’s natural functions. 

So how does TCM treat car accident injuries?

A combination of treatments is usually best. Of course, your visit will start with a consultation to discuss your symptoms and figure out the best approach, and form a treatment plan. 


I often like to start with acupuncture. It can be super effective in increasing circulation, and decreasing pain. Because of the way that Qi circulates through your body, and because Traditional Chinese Medicine approaches the body in terms of systems rather than individual parts, the needles can actually be applied in areas other than the injury. For example, if you are experiencing low back pain, we may apply acupuncture to your calf or ear because the actions of those areas will help with your back pain. And bonus – it won’t aggravate your injury location. 


Cupping is also great for increasing the circulation of Qi, Blood, and Lymph. If you’re unfamiliar, cupping involves lighting alcohol soaked cotton balls on fire, and using those to suck the air out of small glass cups. The cotton ball is then removed, and the cup placed on the skin. The suction created in the cup draws your skin and tissues upward, which causes your blood vessels to expand. As we mentioned before, the key to speeding recovery is to increase the movement of blood and Qi in your injury, and this is exactly what cupping does. 

Herbal Medicine

There are a number of herbal formulations that help to move Blood and Qi, and stop pain. Some commonly used herbs include:

  • Dan Shen – activates Blood circulation and eliminates Blood stasis 
  • Ginkgo – activates Blood circulation and eliminates Blood stasis 
  • Ginseng – tonifies the Qi
  • Notoginseng – stops bleeding and resolves blood stasis, reduces inflammation, alleviates pain
  • Asari radix – expels cold, relieves pain, and moves Qi

I like to use herbal medicines in conjunction with acupuncture and/or cupping. After meeting with you, we’ll determine what the right course of treatment is. 

Treating Trauma with TCM

Car accidents aren’t only hard on our bodies, they can be hard on our minds as well. It’s common to be wound up and have nightmares and stress after even a minor accident. Luckily, Traditional Chinese Medicine doesn’t separate the emotions from the body in the same way that Western medicine tends to. 

Emotions are generally associated with various organs. So if after your accident you are experiencing fear, we can do some acupuncture that stimulates the kidney. Sadness and grief are associated with the lung, and worry with the spleen. This interconnected approach allows us to treat how we experience emotions in our body. Releasing these emotions can go miles in helping us to move past a traumatic experience like an auto accident. 

If you or someone you know has experienced a recent (or not-so-recent) auto accident or other traumatic injury, I’m here to help. Give me a call and we’ll explore all the options for helping you to move past it and feel better. 

Be well.