To start, I will let you know that both are usually necessary for moderate to severe cases. Furthermore, I will give you my opinion as to what I have seen work best in my practice. I have noticed that most people in a car accident are very sensitive, stiff and have a lot of pain doing simple movements in the beginning. Thus, the passive therapy (chiropractic, massage and acupuncture) is good for the first couple of weeks, as well as simple movements/stretches.
I do not recommend complete bed rest as research shows this is not good for you. Thereafter, I typically begin giving exercises to strengthen the spine. Once pain levels have reduced I have the patient go to chiropractic and physical therapy 1-2x/wk. In my experience this gives optimal results, especially when the chiropractor and physical therapist are communicating. This is what I do. If you have any questions regarding your injury you can email me for advice (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call for a consultation. 503.626.2166
Written by Dr. Tony Rhodes, DC.