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Effects of whiplash in a car accident
Dr. Bruce MyersMar 14, 2018 9:15:49 AM7 min read

What Causes Neck Pain After a Car Accident?

Causes of Neck Pain from a Car Accident

Car accidents can damage several areas of the body, especially your neck.

If one of these areas get damaged, it might hinder you during your day to day life. The neck is sensitive to both force and movement.

If you experience neck pain from a recent car accident, you are probably wondering what exactly caused it.

In this blog, we take a look at what you need to know about car accident injuries, the different types of neck injuries you can sustain from one, and how to properly treat neck pain caused by car accidents.

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It is nearly impossible to prepare for the unexpected.

Imagine this-you're driving home from work and before you know it you're part of a vehicular accident.

These events can happen at any time and any place, and the pain after a car accident can be devastating.

Some accidents may seem minor, but you'll find out sooner or later that there's a lingering pain you might feel in your back and neck. 

If you're looking for answers about the lingering pain you've been feeling because of a recent accident, we're here to help you.

How Are Motor Vehicle Accidents Dangerous?

No matter how insignificant it may seem, any form of an accident will carry a certain degree of danger.

Some of these dangerous accidents include drunk driving car accidents in Georgia.

Motor vehicle accidents are on a whole different level as it can bring long-term damage to several areas of the body, and the neck is no exception.

Neck injuries from auto accidents are common, so you shouldn't brush off the event as insignificant. Headaches, nausea, tingling sensations, and slight pains are the least of your problems. Vehicular accidents can even cause compression fracture, disc herniation, and a swift jerking motion to your neck.



How Do Motor Vehicle Accidents Cause Neck Pain?

Whenever vehicular accidents occur, it will always involve a significant amount of force to the driver and other passengers' body. This typically causes a lot damage.

There's a jerking motion that takes place that can result in neck injuries. These pains can occur to either the spinal discs or the facet joints. The speed and impact that takes place aren't fit for the spinal column.

As a result, aches, pains, ruptures, cracks, fissures, and other ailments can occur.

The jerking movement is known as whiplash, and it can cause various ailments and injuries to the spine.

Whenever whiplash occurs, you'll likely immediately feel the force of the impact on your back. The neck pain will then move to the back of the neck.

After a car accident, especially a rear-end collision a whiplash injury is very common.

Long-Term Effects of Whiplash

After an accident, whiplash will immediately start affecting your body.

The severity and longevity of the effects of whiplash heavily depend on the harshness of the accident and how soon treatment is received after the accident. 

However, the pain and most other effects of whiplash usually occur about 12-hours after the accident.

With chronic whiplash, the effects and symptoms will generally last for 6-months or more.

Long-term symptoms of whiplash include the following: neck pain, severe headaches, blurry vision, constant fatigue, jaw pain, irritability, travel anxiety, ringing in the ears, and sometimes sudden numbness in the arms or legs. 


General Symptoms of Neck Injuries After an Auto Accident

If you feel any discomfort or pain after a vehicular accident, it's best to seek a medical professional's help immediately. In doing so, the physician can accurately diagnose the problem in your neck and prescribe a proper solution.

Some symptoms occur almost immediately after the accident, while some warning signs appear days after the incident.

These symptoms include the following:

  • General back, neck pain, as well as shoulder pain
  • headaches
  • Migraines
  • Numbness
  • Burning sensations
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Inability to lift otherwise simple objects


How to Diagnose Facet Joint Injuries From Car Accidents

There are two facet joints on either side of the back of each vertebra in the neck. 

These joints provide stability, while also enabling neck movements such as turning or nodding the head. 

Cartilage lines each facet joint in the neck and this cartilage is surrounded by a capsule filled with synovial fluid.

It is very common for these joints to be injured in auto accident.

Chiropractor examines X-ray

Unlike some cracks or fissures found in the lumbar region, facet joint injuries are easily seen on most standard X-rays. 

You can also undergo a CT scan to get more details out of the damaged spinal structure.

Your physician might even suggest using an injection dye while you're undergoing an X-ray. 

This solution helps them see the problem areas more clearly instead of just relying on what the X-ray tells you right off the bat.

Aside from a CT scan or a traditional X-ray examination, you can also opt for an MRI scan to help diagnose issues and concerns in the facet joints. 


How to Treat Facet Joint Pain From Auto Accidents

Never push yourself too hard if you feel any discomfort or pain in your facet joints. 

Move slowly, and if you feel any significant pain, you should immediately stop what you're trying to do.

If the pain persists, you can massage over the area to help relieve any muscle spasms that might be occurring.

Pain medication is an option for neck pain but beware of the side effects.

Another solution to help treat facet joint pains is to seek a licensed and qualified chiropractor. 

The chiropractor will give you detailed information on what happened to your facet joints, the exact location of the pain, and what needs to be done to alleviate said ache. 

Last but not least, you should exercise to help improve the stiffness and spasms.


Car Accidents Affect the Muscles As Well

Motor vehicle accidents won't just affect your spinal column and the surrounding skeletal structures. They can negatively affect the muscles as well.

There are different ways accidents can affect the muscles. Let's take a look at some of them now.


Injuries to Soft Muscle Tissue

Perhaps the most common injury that can take place to your muscles after a car accident is known as a soft tissue injury.

A whiplash injury, which we discussed earlier, is a common soft tissue injury that involves the muscles found in your neck. 

It's particularly commonplace when experiencing rear-end collisions. 

Muscle Weakness

If you suffered a herniated disc after a car accident, it could then lead to muscle weakness.

The symptoms may or may not take effect immediately after the car accident, and it could take weeks or even months after the incident for symptoms to show.

If you feel any muscle weakness, sudden pains, or any discomfort in your neck after a car accident, always seek immediate medical attention. 

Even if you think that the pain or uneasiness is seemingly insignificant, contact a licensed chiropractor immediately not to let the uncomfortable feeling get any worse.


Can I Be Compensated for Neck Pain Caused by Car Accidents?

You can file a claim if you experience a neck injury if you're involved in a vehicular accident.

The severity of your injury, and your treatment's overall length can also affect the amount of cash you will receive from the settlement.

Remember that you still need to prove that you acquired these injuries from the accident first before you can properly file a claim.

To learn more about being compensated for neck-related injuries after an auto accident, you should contact a qualified personal injury attorney.



Get Pain Relief at Arrowhead Clinic

Knowing the cause of neck pain after an auto accident is half the battle, but you shouldn't stop there.

Always seek a chiropractor's help at the first sign of neck pain to accurately diagnose the root and location of the issue.

Chiropractor using mobilization treatment method


Chiropractic care is significantly effective in treating the spinal and soft tissue injuries commonly associated with accidents.

If you live in the Georgia or South Carolina area and would like a free consultation from an experienced and professional chiropractor near you, don't hesitate to click the banner below.

Free Chiropractic Consultation | Arrowhead Clinic


Original blog post published here.


Dr. Bruce Myers

Dr. Bruce attended Harvey Mudd College prior to enrolling in Life Chiropractic College. Following graduation in 1986, he worked as an associate for Dr. James Reed in Tucker, GA and later purchased the practice. After 20 years as a solo practitioner, he relocated to Columbus, GA to work for Brodwyn and Associates. After 6 years in Columbus, he joined Arrowhead Clinic in Hinesville in order to be closer to the beach. Dr. Bruce has postgraduate training in Whiplash Injury Biomechanics & Traumatology 2018, Modules 1-4, Spine Research Institute of San Diego. In addition to personal injury, posture analysis and extremity care. While in Tucker and Columbus, he was very involved in the community and served as the team chiropractor for numerous sports teams in the area.