The Causes of Neck Pain After a Car Accident

After a car accident, many people experience neck pain….

The pain can be nagging, feel tight, and make movement painful and difficult. Neck pain can also linger, causing suffering for months, or even years. Neck pain after a car accident is one of the most underreported injuries in the United States. Neck and lower back pain caused by a car accident can lead to permanent injuries.


Whiplash is a term used to describe a common cause of neck injuries in automobile crashes. The term comes from the motion of the head involved in a forcible impact moving in a whip-like motion forward and back. The whipping motion can strain and tear ligaments and tendons in the neck, cause disc herniation, and muscular injuries in the neck and back. Rear-end car collisions are a frequent cause of whiplash.

Symptoms of Whiplash

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Worsening of pain with neck movement
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
  • Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back or arms
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Whiplash can also cause ringing in the ears, blurred vision, sleeplessness, irritability, and depression. Symptoms should alleviate within a few weeks, but may linger for months. The only treatment to alleviate the symptoms of whiplash is ice, rest, and immobilize. In many cases, physical therapy can help shorten recovery time and help strengthen the neck. Serious whiplash injuries may require injections to block pain.

After many car accidents, severe neck and back injuries are mistaken as the symptoms of whiplash. Neck pain after a car accident should be checked by a doctor to make sure the accident did not cause a serious injury.

Herniated Disc, Fractured Vertebrae, Spinal Cord Injuries

The human body releases adrenaline after a car accident. Adrenaline helps to block pain. Many people involved in rear-end collisions do not feel any pain immediately after a car accident because of adrenaline. Hours later, they may feel stiffness in the neck, tension in the back, and headaches. These can be symptoms of whiplash, but they might indicate a more serious injury.

Ruptured, Slipped, or Herniated Disc

Between the bones that make up the human spine are rubber-like discs that prevent the vertebrae from touching. These discs can rupture, slip, or tear, causing serious pain. An injury to a disc often creates a degenerative disease. The disc will not heal on its own and will continue to weaken over time.

When a back injury occurs in a car accident, the victim may not realize the damage in the moment. Minor neck soreness and other symptoms of whiplash are common when a disc injury has happened. Over time, the pain from the damaged disc will increase. In cases where the disc bulges out, it can press against nerve bundles.

Nerve pressure can cause numbness, tingling, and burning sensations. Nerve pressure from disc injuries can cause radiating pain down the arms and legs and can lead to the loss of feeling in portions of the thighs and buttocks. It can be immobilizing to the victim and cause bowel problems, depending on the location of the herniation.

Treating Herniated Discs

Some people can have herniated discs and not be aware of it until an x-ray image is made. Neck pain after a car accident should be checked with imaging to eliminate possible serious injuries. Many disc herniations are treated with modified lifting, carrying, and reaching requirements, physical therapy, and rest. Symptoms should alleviate within a few weeks.

Neck pain caused by disc injuries after a car accident that does not go away may require injections to block pain receptors. Surgical options can include removing the portion of disc that is protruding, spinal fusion surgery, or artificial disc replacement. Surgical solutions carry long-term problems of their own, including reduced strength and mobility.

Vertebrae Fractures

Car accidents are responsible for 45% of all spinal fractures in the United States. Fractures happen in several ways. A compression fracture is when the vertebrae suddenly gives out, folding up like an accordion. Dislocations happen when sudden motion tears the ligaments that hold the spine in alignment. Impacts such as car seat belts frequently cause dislocation injuries. Fracture-dislocation injuries involve both torn ligaments and broken bones.

There is a significant risk of nerve and spinal cord damage when dealing with vertebrae fractures. Shards of bone can cut and tear the nerves and spinal cord, causing serious and potentially permanent damage.

Fractured vertebra exhibit many of the same symptoms as whiplash. Sufferers of fractured vertebrae may experience:

  • back or neck pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • muscle spasm
  • Weakness
  • Bowel or bladder changes
  • paralysis

Treatment of Fractured Verterbrae

Fractured vertebrae treatments depend on the location of the injury. In some cases, immobilization and rest may be all that is required. Often, sufferers of broken vertebrae will require surgery to repair and stabilize the tendons and bones of the spine. Surgery carries the risk of paralysis, and will leave the sufferer with decreased mobility and strength in most cases. Vertebrae fractures can take anywhere from months to years to heal properly.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Many car accidents can cause injuries to the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that connects the brain to other parts of the body. Injuries to the spinal cord typically happen as a result of sudden and traumatic force, such as is experienced in a head-on collision. Injuries to the spinal cord can be complete -wherein the victim has lost all function below the site of injury- or incomplete. Incomplete spinal cord injuries are the most common suffered by people involved in car accidents.

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries

  • Loss of Feeling
  • Loss of Movement
  • Loss of Sensation
  • Feeling but no motion
  • Motion but no sensation
  • Loss of Involuntary Muscles
  • Paralysis

Treatment for Spinal Cord Injuries

There currently is no “cure” for spinal injuries. Advances have been made in treating spinal injuries quickly after the injury. The problems arising from spinal cord injuries will be long-term and can lead to death.

What To Do If Your Neck Hurts After A Car Accident

There is no correlation between the severity of a car accident and the severity of a neck injury. People can experience injuries at all speeds. In fact, the majority of whiplash injuries is estimated to occur in crashes below 12 miles per hour. These minor collisions can result in 12 g-force of acceleration. That is the equivalent to accelerating your head 263 miles per hour in one second.

You should seek medical help for any neck injury after a car accident. The doctor can quickly check for serious injuries and give you peace of mind. If you suffered a serious injury because of a car accident, early diagnosis and treatment is key to a swift recovery.

When to Call an Injury Lawyer

When you are in a car accident that causes a neck injury, you are not immediately thinking about calling a lawyer. You should contact an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the nuances of treating neck injuries caused by car accidents as soon as possible.

How Much is My Neck Injury Worth?

Neck injuries tend to be very expensive to treat. These injuries require numerous scans and xrays. Victims are frequently prescribed medications and medical devices to limit movement and help in healing. Neck injuries can take months to recover from, and can cost tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

Our attorneys will never promise you a set amount of settlement until we have negotiated with the insurance company and got the best deal for you. We will fight on your behalf to get the most medical benefits for you to recover from your neck injury. There are many factors that affect the settlement and outcome of a neck injury case caused by a car accident.

Our Risk-Free consultation is intended to provide an opportunity to share the facts of your injury claim. Our personal injury lawyers will let you know how we may proceed to get you the settlement you deserve.

How Our Lawyers Can Help

Our attorneys have decades of experience winning cases involving neck injuries. All neck and back injuries are serious and should be treated as such. Too many people think that whiplash is a minor injury and ignore the warning signs of serious damage until it is too late. Our attorneys will ensure the highest level of medical expertise to eliminate any stress about the injury. Once we know what the extent of the injury is, we will work with the insurance adjuster to get you a fair settlement.

Our personal injury lawyers take the stress and burden from you, letting you focus on healing and being well. We will negotiate with the insurance adjusters and lawyers to get the most fair settlement possible for you and your family. We won’t let you be forced into signing a settlement that doesn’t meet your needs. Remember, We Win, or It’s Free” ®.

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