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Causes of Car Accident Back Pain and Treatment Options from a Car Accident Doctor

Published Date: 
April 4, 2017
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In 2015, around 2.44 million people became injured due to vehicular accidents. Car accident injuries may include mild sprains, disk herniation, bruises, fractured vertebrae, and spinal cord damage. Furthermore, while some people may not experience intense pain immediately after the accident, more than 70% who go to the emergency room report pain 6 weeks after, based on the research of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Many of these patients complained of low back pain and neck pain. If you've been in an auto accident, you might be interested in understanding why you feel back pain.

Causes of Car Accident Back Pain

Back pain is often caused by herniated and bulging discs. 23 discs sit between your 24 vertebrae and any blunt force on the back may lead to disc herniation or bulging. Disc herniation happens when a disc erupts and a portion of the internal cartilage gets pushed outwards. Disc bulging, on the other hand, refers to a disc which is squeezed out of its natural location.

Besides disc herniation or bulging, your back may hurt as a result of bruised or torn soft tissue. Soft tissue ligaments and tendons may stretch, affect thousands of nerves, and generate mild or significant pain.

Force may compress downward the anterior section of the vertebra and spine too, producing back fractures as an outcome. Such compressions can be extremely painful.

Apart from compression, blunt impact on the back may disintegrate numerous vertebrae in the lumbar and cervical areas called axial bursts. Lumbar and cervical ends may diminish in mass and cause long-term pain.

Aside from axial bursts, flexion distraction fractures may influence car accident back pain which happens during head-on crashes wherein the upper spinal cord and vertebra are forcefully bent to the front. Even with a seatbelt on, the violent movement forward can fracture the upper vertebra.

Other kinds of fractures are transverse process fractures and dislocation fractures. When the spine and vertebra move to the front, back, or sideways, it may produce transverse process fractures. Dislocated fractures occur if one or more vertebrae fractures and the soft tissue from other parts of the disc pushes into the injured area.

Back Pain Treatment Modalities

Treatment for back pain rests on factors such as the patient’s history and the severity and kind of pain experienced. Many types of back pain including lower back pain may get better after six weeks. However, chronic pain may require other options including a visit to a car accident doctor.

Rest and Exercise

Rest after a car accident is an important part of treating back pain. Your back may need a few days for the damaged tissues and nerve roots to heal. Aside from giving your body time to rest, you should also perform strength and flexibility exercises to strengthen your back muscles and improve the speed of recovery.

Heat and Ice

Heat therapy, cold treatment, or both can help reduce back pain as well through diminishing inflammation. Ice is recommended for the initial treatment though other patients opt for heat packs. Ice and heat may be used alternately too.


Over-the-counter and prescription drugs can alleviate pain. Each kind of medicine has side effects though and potential food and drug interactions, thereby requiring physician evaluation.

Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractic is one of the common treatments for lasting back pain conditions and may integrate manual therapy. Chiropractors who are car accident doctors can apply spinal manipulation through high-speed short lever arm forces on the pained vertebra in order to enhance functionality, decrease nerve irritability, and improve the body’s range of motion. In addition, chiropractic care may also use mobilization which involves low speed manipulation accompanied by muscle and joint stretching.

If you’ve been in pain for a long time after a vehicular crash, consider visiting a car accident doctor immediately. He can evaluate your condition and provide prompt treatment so you can avoid the pain from worsening and turning into a chronic condition.


“Auto Crashes, MARCH 2017,”
“Car Accident Back Injuries, Treatments, and Filing Insurance Claims,”
“Chiropractic Treatments for Lower Back Pain,”

Dr. Darren Faherty D.C.

In 2004, Dr. Darren Faherty graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from UWEC - University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Dr. Darren continued education at the highly esteemed University of Western States (formerly Western States Chiropractic College) where he obtained his chiropractic degree in 2007. He has been helping people recover from injuries and return to their normal lifestyles ever since.

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