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Common Neck and Back Injuries From Car Accidents

  • By Craig Kidwell
  • 04 May, 2018
Common Neck and Back Injuries From Car Accidents
Whether you've been in a little fender bender or a serious car accident, your back and neck may have been injured. The spinal column is the center of your whole body and, while strong, its delicate workings are prone to injury. The violence of a sudden stop or crash can cause serious injury. If you're experiencing neck or back pain after a car accident, it could be due to one of the following types of injuries.

Neck and Shoulder Muscle Injury

If your neck and shoulders are aching after a car accident, it can be a sign of injuries such as whiplash. However, your muscles could also have been damaged during the car accident even if nothing physically hit your body. Such injuries are common even after low-speed accidents.

When you see danger approaching, such as an oncoming car about to hit your vehicle, you naturally tense. When your muscles tense up, they have less give than relaxed muscles. Therefore, even when nothing hits your body, you can suffer soft tissue damage.


Whiplash is another version of muscle injury except the head is the main catalyst. When the car stops suddenly because of the accident, the head whips one way then the other. Because of the speed and the force of the movement, the spine and surrounding tissue are damaged. You can even suffer tears in your nerves, connective tissues, and muscles.

Whiplash can manifest like neck and shoulder pain. However, you can experience more excruciating pain, too. Numbness and tingling that start in the neck and radiate up the arm are also symptoms of whiplash. Serious cases of whiplash can produce neck instability, headaches, blurred vision, and problems with balance.

Disc Herniation

The spinal column consists of the vertebrae cushioned with disks, which feature a tough exterior and soft interior. When you're in a car accident, the upper part of your body can experience the whipping motion of the sudden stop while your lower body stays secured by the seatbelt. This differentiation can result in one or more discs becoming herniated.

With a herniated disc, part of the soft interior pushes through a crack in the exterior and pinches a nerve radiating from the spinal column. The pinched nerve can cause pain in your arms or legs, depending on where the herniation is located. You can also experience numbness and tingling as well as weakness in the affected extremities.  

Dislocated or Fractured Vertebrae

The same sudden stop and whipping motion that can cause a herniated disc can also pull the vertebrae apart. This can result in a dislocation or even a fracture dislocation. With a dislocation, the ligaments holding the vertebrae together are torn, so the bone moves. Fracture dislocation adds the vertebrae being broken.

Symptoms of vertebrae injury depend on the severity. Mild dislocations and fractures can exhibit similar symptoms to whiplash or a herniated disc. However, a big danger of a fractured vertebra is that it can cause bone fragments to enter the spinal canal. Once the spinal cord is affected, you can experience paralysis, either temporary or permanent.

The best course of action after a car accident is to seek immediate medical treatment. Tell the physician exactly what you remember of the accident and everything you feel. Such information gives your doctor the best chance of diagnosing any back injuries right away.

Some back injuries, such as whiplash, don't manifest any symptoms until later. Be aware of your body in the days after the accident. If you feel any appearance of new symptoms or worsening of existing ones, visit your doctor again. You have a better chance of becoming pain-free after a back injury before the damage becomes permanent.

Lastly, keep a record of all your medical expenses to make a personal injury claim. Then contact the legal experts at Kidwell & Gallagher LTD for assistance.

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