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Neck and Back Injuries

Motor Vehicle accidents that result in an abrupt stop can cause severe injuries. Neck pain after a car accident is the most common form of damage, even following a minor injury. However, injuries to the vertebral column and spinal cord could cause permanent disability or even death.

Some injuries require emergency medical treatment, but even mild discomfort could indicate something more sinister. Your primary care doctor may not be able to treat injuries associated with a car crash, so seeking medical care from injury doctors may be necessary.

Common Neck and Back Injuries From an Auto Accident

Common Neck and Back Injuries From an Auto Accident

The collision from a car accident causes an abrupt and often violent stop that can cause severe damage to the human body, like broken bones. Many car accident injuries include soft tissue injuries, spinal injuries, neck injuries, and back injuries.

Some common auto accident injuries causing neck and back pain include:

  • Facet joint injuries cause instant pain when damage to the cartilage between the facet joints causes fluid to leak.
  • Lumbar sprains occur due to damage to the muscles and tissue in the back.
  • Herniated discs occur when the vertebral discs located between the vertebrae compress or fall out of alignment due to the force of impact.
  • Thoracic spine injuries occur anywhere from the upper to the middle part of the back. They may include fractures and can cause paralysis. 
  • Spinal stenosis is a progressive disease caused by an untreated back injury. Narrowing of the path through your vertebrae can add pressure that pushes the vertebrae outward, pinching the nerves. This occurs most often in the neck and lumbar areas of the spinal column.
  • Fractures in the lumbar spine are painful and disabling and often require surgery and long recovery.

If you have a history of back pain, your risk for injury following auto accidents is significantly higher than someone without previous injuries. Diagnosis of these injuries typically occurs through imaging, such as X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and treatment can vary from ongoing physical or occupational therapy to emergency surgery depending on the severity of the injury.

A car accident doctor will likely ask you questions such as:

  • What was the speed of the cars when the accident occurred?
  • How long ago did the accident occur?
  • Can you specifically identify the location of the pain?
  • How would you rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • Where did the vehicles collide? 

You may struggle to answer these in the immediate aftermath, but any information you can provide helps the doctor better understand the nature of your accident and how that could affect your body. For example, a rear-end accident at even low speed could cause whiplash.

Whiplash: Common Cause of Neck Pain After a Car Accident

Whiplash Common Cause of Neck Pain After a Car Accident

Whiplash is the most common cause of neck pain after a car accident. It occurs when the rapid movement of the neck in a back-and-forth motion causes microscopic tears to the soft tissue of the neck. It gets its name from the imagery of a cracking whip.

Some refer to it as a neck sprain or strain, but those could refer to other types of injuries as well.

Symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Pain and stiffness in the neck
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities, particularly the arms
  • Inability to turn the head from left to right or to move it up and down
  • Headaches occurring at the base of the skull
  • Pain in the shoulder or upper back near the neck

Some people also experience sensory or behavioral issues, such as depression, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, trouble with concentration, problems with memory, feeling irritable, and having trouble sleeping. The most common cause is car accidents involving rear-end collisions.

Symptoms of Neck and Back Injuries

Symptoms of Neck and Back Injuries

Back pain after a car accident can be latent or occur immediately following the accident. Sometimes it may present with minor discomfort and progress into more severe injury.

Common immediate symptoms include:

  • Difficulty walking, standing, or sitting naturally
  • Pain in the neck, back, or head
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trouble moving fingers or toes
  • Losing control of your bladder or bowels
  • Feeling an immediate headache develop right after impact
  • Losing balance of the ability to walk
  • Struggling to breathe
  • Numbness, tingling or burning feelings anywhere on the body

Spinal cord injuries often present with immediate symptoms and typically indicate a severe injury. A car accident doctor may offer pain management medications immediately before diagnosis.

Some common delayed symptoms of neck or back injuries include:

  • Mental changes, such as feeling panicked, stressed, or anxious
  • Headaches that do not subside for several days
  • Loss or decrease in vision or hearing 
  • Tenderness, pain, bruising, or swelling in the abdomen.
  • Unwavering tingling and numbness in the extremities, particularly the arms, fingers, and hands.
  • Pain or sensations of pinching in the neck or back

There is no universal explanation for neck or back pain after a car accident. Injuries vary in presentation, but the most common cause of delayed symptoms following a car accident often relates to the shock you experience.

The body’s natural response to shock is an overproduction of adrenaline into the bloodstream to help prepare your body for the pain. Adrenaline can continue to pump through your veins for hours or even more than a day, blocking pain receptors and deceptively masking injuries. As the adrenaline starts to subside, you begin to feel the pain, often in quick progression.

Another possible reason for delayed symptoms or pain is that some injuries take more time to develop. Swelling and bruising do not immediately appear. Sometimes it can take hours or even days for the pain to become more apparent.

Benefits of Seeing a Car Injury Doctor

Benefits of Seeing a Car Injury Doctor.

Even a minor fender bender can result in serious injuries that cause pain and discomfort. Back and neck pain after a car accident often indicates severe injuries. The experienced car accident doctors at Medical Clinics of New York City treat car accident victims with neck and back pain every day.

They offer quality care and comprehensive services. They can communicate with your primary care physician, insurance company, and with your car accident lawyer if you have a pending personal injury claim. Our specialists provide proper documentation for your medical records and the right treatment plan for your specific injuries and medical condition.

With offices located in several areas around New York City, you can get the assessment and treatment that you need conveniently and quickly. We accept no-fault insurance, PIP (Personal Injury Protection), workers’ compensation, and other health insurance plans.

Patients can experience caring customer service, in a warm, stress-free office environment. Request your appointment online with Medical Clinics of New York City today. Call us today and get on the way to full recovery after a car crash.