Millions of people are injured or seriously injured in car accidents around the US each year. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, in 2016 4.6 million individuals were seriously injured. The severity of impact-related injuries can vary depending on the type of accident, but even minor auto accidents can cause traumatic injuries — injuries of sudden onset that require immediate medical attention.
More than one part of your body can be injured — and new symptoms can arise in the days after an accident. Back and neck injuries are some of the most commonly experienced injuries from car wrecks.
Common Back and Neck Injuries After a Wreck:
Neck and back injuries from car wrecks are varied and can result from impact at slow speeds as well as fast. We have highlighted some of the most common issues below. Symptoms associated with back and neck injuries result from orthopedic damage such as bone fractures or damage to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support the skeletal system.
When the head experiences sudden movement — front, back or side to side — damage to muscles, ligaments and connective tissues in the neck and upper back can lead to whiplash. Whiplash often presents following rear-end vehicle collisions.
The force of an accident can lead to broken bones with extremities, facial and collarbone fractures being the most common.
An auto collision can lead to parts of your spinal structure shifting out of place. Slipped, ruptured, herniated and bulging discs can lead to debilitating pain.
Acute Mechanical Back Pain
Damage to spinal joints, discs, vertebrae and supporting structures like soft tissues can cause musculoskeletal injuries such as mechanical back pain.
General Symptoms of Neck and Back Injuries After Car Wrecks
Symptoms vary widely depending on the severity of your injuries. A medical professional will diagnose your symptoms and prescribe the appropriate course of action. Back and neck injury symptoms may present immediately or days after the car accident.
- Pain in the neck, back, head, shoulders
- Pain that worsens with activity
- Difficulty focusing, migraines, headaches and vertigo
- Abnormal sensations, such as numbness, prickling, burning, or the feeling of something crawling on your skin
- Sagging shoulder, arm, or joint
- Restricted range of motion
- Inability to lift something or lack of mobility
- A grinding sensation during movement
- Bump or deformity near injury
- Redness, bruising, inflammation or swelling
Steps to Take After the Car Accident
If you or a loved one is in a car wreck, it’s important to seek medical advice as soon as possible to aid recovery, avoid unnecessary or chronic pain, and to reduce the risk of long-term complications.
- Naturally, you’ll visit the ER If you have symptoms or your accident was serious
- Document your symptoms daily — note increase or decrease in severity, what triggers a symptom, when the symptoms happen and if activity worsens the symptoms
- Call a multi-disciplinary medical facility or professional who specializes in treating back and neck injuries from car wrecks
Make sure you to get yourself the best course of treatment to ensure that your back or neck injury heals as quickly as possible. A coordinated care plan to treat multiple injuries from a multi-disciplinary medical provider–and early intervention–produce the best outcomes for those who have neck and back injuries following a car wreck. There are a variety of treatments to help you get back to your life including interventional pain management, physical therapy, and, when necessary, surgery. Your doctor will be able to guide you through the process and help get you back on track.