Causes of Back Pain After Car Accidents

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Countless people walk away from auto accidents, seemingly unharmed. Unfortunately, within just several hours or days, they often experience stiffening, tightening, or painful movements resulting from the jarring force of their impacts.

Car crashes can be especially detrimental to the back. Along with the spinal cord, the neck and back is a complex, interconnected system of tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones. These structures are intended to work seamlessly together and support one another. When even a single structure is displaced or stressed, everything can suffer.

Here are some of the most common causes of back pain after car accidents, along with tips for getting the proper treatment.

Upper Back Pain

Whiplash ranks among the most common causes of back pain following collisions. Although this condition is often only temporary, it can be sustained in car accidents even when vehicles are traveling at relatively low speeds. Conditions like whiplash can make getting dressed an excruciating and time-consuming chore.

Other back injuries that cause pain in the upper portion of the back are:

  • Fractured vertebrae,
  • Herniated discs, and
  • Soft tissue and muscle strains and sprains.

No matter how seemingly minor a back injury might be, it can affect a person’s ability to live comfortably. When even the simplest of movements cause extreme discomfort, going to work and taking care of job-related responsibilities can be downright impossible.

Lower Back Pain

The lower lumbar spine can also sustain a fair amount of damage in a car crash depending on how a person is sitting, how their body moves at the moment of impact, and the amount of force it’s subjected to. Even factors such as where a person is sitting in a vehicle at the time of impact can play a role in determining how severe lower back issues are.

Common causes of lower back pain include:

  • Fractured vertebrae,
  • Herniated discs,
  • Injuries to the facet joints (joints connecting the spinal bones), or
  • Lumbar sprains.

With lower back pain, bending and lifting are virtually impossible. Many people struggle to even bend and tie their shoes.

Pain at the Mid-Portion of the Back

Injuries affecting the mid-portion of the back are similar to those that cause lower back pain. However, given that the back is an interconnected system of multiple structures, much of the pain that’s felt in the middle back after a car accident can be attributed to overcompensating for other injuries.

If your upper or lower back are sore and you continue to go to work and engage in other regular activities, you may have to rely on muscles and other structures at the mid-back. This over-reliance can lead to sore, tight muscles, muscle spasms, and other signs of fatigue.

Treatment for Back Pain After Car Accidents

Going to the emergency room after a car accident is an important part of documenting your injuries. This initial visit is an opportunity to connect the discomfort that you’re feeling to the event that has caused it.

However, ER doctors and other professionals in the emergency room are primarily concerned with ensuring that patients are in stable condition. Apart from instances in which internal bleeding and severe spinal injuries are suspected, minimal diagnostic testing is performed to assess the overall health and functioning of the back. As a result, many people leave emergency rooms after car accidents with back injuries that are overlooked or with back pain that has yet to manifest.

Therefore, it’s always important to follow up on this visit by scheduling an appointment with your regular doctor.

You may also receive a consultation from a chiropractic doctor. Chiropractors perform comprehensive diagnostic assessments of the spine to check for areas of misalignment (subluxations), pinched, herniated, or slipped discs, muscle stress, and other forms of musculoskeletal harm.

Myofascial specialists consider how car crashes have affected the body’s connective tissues. They can assist in your treatment by identifying any soft tissue injuries at the back that have been overlooked.

There are also several things that you can do to protect and support your back while you recover. These include:

  • Taking it easy,
  • Staying hydrated,
  • Using over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen to alleviate swelling and pain,
  • Attending physical therapy, or
  • Use hot-and-cold therapy to reduce swelling and inflammation and promote comfort

Ultrasound therapy, inversion therapy, acupuncture, and acupressure are other options in treatment that may expedite healing and facilitate relief. Some practitioners also rely on injectable corticosteroids for pain management.

Compensation for Back Injuries and the Resulting Pain and Suffering

Compensation for back injuries should account for the full range of losses you’ve experienced. Among these are your:

  • Lost wages,
  • Lost professional opportunities,
  • Loss of consortium (damaged family and social relationships),
  • Medical bills, and
  • Money spent on medical and therapy supplies.

Compensation for your back injuries should account for all of your pain and suffering. It is additionally important to note that severe spinal and back injuries can lead to severe depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. The heightened mental and emotional anguish caused by a back injury is best treated by speaking with a licensed therapist.

Get in Touch With David R. Price, Jr., P.A.

David R. Price, Jr., P.A., is committed to helping car accident victims get fair compensation for their damages. If you’ve been dealing with back pain after a recent car crash, we can help. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

FAQs About Back Pain After Car Accidents

What if I need surgery for my back pain?

Settlements for car accident injuries begin after a person’s treatment has ended or after their long-term prognosis is known. If you need surgery for your back pain, your primary care physician or chiropractor can refer you to a spine surgeon, and your attorney can advise you on the best time to settle.

What if my back started hurting several days after my accident?

It sometimes takes several days for back pain to manifest after a car accident. This is known as a latent injury, and the potential for latent injuries is why accident victims are advised against trying to settle their claims too soon.


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