Treatment Options for Back Pain After a Car Accident (2022)

Back pain after a car accident is one of the most common injuries that can occur. During a car accident, the back, especially the lower back, is put under tremendous strain with these dynamic forces. The trunk and back are at high risk for injury during deceleration. The seat belt, airbags, and other safety measures help save lives but can cause other injuries to the spine.

What Can You Do for Your Back Pain After a Car Accident?

Depending on the cause of the pain, there are various treatment options to help improve back pain after a car accident. Interventional pain and spine physicians can diagnose and treat these injuries often without the need for surgical procedures. However, it is essential to seek medical attention within 14 days of your accident to ensure care and help coordinate insurance coverage. Our team can help, and we have appointments available within 48-hours or less. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

We have also compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions to help every patient figure out their next steps after a car accident. These questions are important when you are starting your search and will help you find the correct provider for your situation.

Common Causes of Back Pain After a Car Accident

Before reviewing treatment options, it is important to understand the most common causes of back pain after a vehicle accident.

Whiplash and Soft Tissue Injuries

The most common term used to describe back pain after a car accident is whiplash. This is not a specific medical diagnosis. Rather, it helps describe common symptoms after a high-velocity spine injury. Commonly car accidents result in muscle spasms, sprains, and strains. These are typically characterized by muscle tenderness and a decreased ability to bend or rotate the spine. Injuries to the ligaments, tendons, fascia, or connective tissues are common after a car accident. The stretching or tearing of these structures can cause pain and, in severe cases, instability of the spine.

Facet Joint Injuries

The joints of the back, known as the facet joints, are commonly injured during a car accident. These joints allow for movement; however, they are susceptible to damage most commonly when the back is forced into hyperextension, such as rear-ended. Injury to these joints results in back pain. In some cases, the pain may radiate into the buttock region.

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Sacroiliac Joint Inflammation

The sacroiliac joint or SI joint is a small joint that connects your spine, pelvis, and hips. This joint, similar to any joint in the body, can become inflamed. Inflammation of this joint is common after a car accident. Patients may have pain in the lower back below the beltline.

Disc Damage

Damage to the intervertebral discs can occur after a car accident. Terms like a slipped disc, herniated disc, or bulging disc all refer to this structure’s damage. This damage can result in Back pain and leg pain known as radiculopathy or sciatica if the disc leaks or contacts an adjacent nerve.

Compression Fractures

Compression fractures of the vertebral bodies of the spine are common and can cause significant pain. These fractures commonly occur in the lower back at locations where mobile portions of the spine connect to fixed parts of the spine. Most of the time, these fractures do not result in nerve injury but result in significant pain.

Treatments for Back Pain After a Car Accident

Home Remedies

​​When you cannot see a provider quickly, home remedies might provide the pain relief you seek for back pain after a car accident.

Heat decreases stiffness, improves tissue flexibility, increases blood flow to injured tissue. Hot packs, heating pads, paraffin baths, whirlpool baths, or saunas are all examples of ways of using heat to improve pain. We typically recommend 30 minutes of treatment followed by a break of at least 30 minutes. This can be used throughout the day.

Massage treatments can also improve pain and range of motion of the spine after a car accident. Massage therapy relieves muscle tension, reduces pain, and improves circulation. Theracane, home massage device, or massage are all good options to aid with relief.

(Video) Treating Back Pain Caused by Injury

Home Exercise

Low impact exercise can aid with improving back pain after a car accident as well as mood. Low impact exercises have been shown to decrease acute and chronic pain long-term. Exercise reduces joint stiffness, improves strength, and lubricates joints. Walking, pool exercise, Tai Chi, and yoga are good options for decreasing pain and improving function.

TENS UNIT

A TENS unit is a small device that can be purchased over the counter or obtained via a medical provider. A TENS unit sends small painless electrical signals through the skin using an adhesive patch. These signals help interrupt painful nerve firing and decrease muscle spasms.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy under the guidance of a licensed therapist can be a helpful way of improving back pain after a car accident. Often physical therapy can aid with stretching and strengthening of injured back muscles and soft tissues. Therapy aids with regaining loss of movement and function in a structured, safe environment to decrease healing and recovery time.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care and spinal manipulation are effective for acute and subacute pain. Chiropractic care can help realign the spinal segments and restore normal movement. Spinal manipulation is also an effective option for headaches after a car accident.

Medications

Medications can be used to treat back pain after a car accident. These medications are typically used in conjunction with other therapies and injections to accelerate healing and relief.

Anti-inflammatory medications such as prescription-strength ibuprofen, Mobic, or Celebrex can be used to decrease swelling and tissue inflammation after injury.

(Video) Neck Pain? Back Pain? Car Accident? Headaches? Watch this.

Muscle spasms medications such as Flexeril, baclofen, and tizanidine can help to improve range of motion and help improve sleep after sustaining a back injury.

Nerve pain medications including gabapentin, Lyrica, or Topamax are commonly used to slow abnormal nerve activity after an injury. These medications can aid with pain from pinched nerves and/or headaches.

Trigger Point Injections

Trigger points are described as tender points, spasms, or hyperirritable areas in the muscles. Patients typically can feel the trigger points as nodules that are painful to pressure. The most common locations for trigger points are the neck, upper and low back. Trigger point injections are quick injections performed at locations to provide rapid relief and decrease pain and muscle spasms.

Facet Injections, Medial Branch Blocks, and Radiofrequency Ablation

The joints of the back are called facet joints. These joints have a small nerve called the medial branch nerve, which sends pain signals from the back to the brain. Back pain after a car accident commonly results from degeneration or injury within the facet joints. Pain is often felt on either side of the spine at the affected levels and results in pain in the hips, buttocks, and thighs. Lumbar facet blocks, lumbar medial branch blocks, and lumbar facet joint injections are terms made to describe similar procedures. This pain is treated with medial branch nerve blocks, radiofrequency ablation, and facet injections.

Epidural Steroid Injections

Epidural steroid injections are intended to treat multiple causes of both back and leg pain. Common conditions treated with epidural steroid injections include: “pinched nerves,” radiculopathy, and herniated or bulging discs. An epidural steroid injection is an injection of a potent anti-inflammatory medication into the epidural space of the back using x-ray guidance. The epidural space is an area of the body where the spinal nerves are located and often are inflamed, resulting in significant pain and sometimes weakness. The steroid medication provides an anti-inflammatory effect to reduce pain, nerve swelling, and irritation.

Sacroiliac Joint Injections

A sacroiliac joint injection uses x-ray guidance to place an anti-inflammatory medication directly into the sacroiliac joint. This procedure can provide rapid pain relief for inflamed SI joints.

(Video) SOFT TISSUE INJURY AFTER CAR ACCIDENT

Sacroplasty and Kyphoplasty

Sacroplasty and kyphoplasty are both used to treat compression fractures of the spine. Sacral fractures or sacral insufficiency are treated with sacroplasty. A vertebral compression fracture is a fracture of the vertebral body. Vertebral compression fractures often occur after falls or trauma such as car accidents. The vertebral body appears compressed, causing significant pain and worsened kyphosis (forward bending of the spine). Kyphoplasty is used to help with pain from the fracture and decrease the chances of worsening spinal deformities.

Kyphoplasty is done in the operating room, usually under general anesthesia or with light sedation. Under fluoroscopy (x-ray), a balloon catheter is guided into the fractured vertebral body and inflated with a liquid under pressure. As the balloon inflates, it helps restore the collapsed vertebral body’s height and correct abnormal wedging of the broken vertebra. Once maximally inflated, the balloon is deflated and removed, thus leaving a large cavity in the vertebral body. This cavity is then filled with bone cement under low pressure, which then hardens in place, maintaining correction of the collapse and wedging.

Surgical Procedures

In some cases, the expertise of a surgeon is required to determine if a surgical procedure is required. Surgeries are typically required when patients have structure damage resulting in neurologic deficits. Examples of the deficits are muscle weakness and loss of sensation. Surgery is also offered when there is instability or risk of damaging the spinal cord and nerves as the spine is no longer structurally sound. Lastly, surgery can be considered if patients continue to have pain despite trying the previously mentioned therapies, injections, and pain medication.

The safety measures in a car that help us keep safe in many ways can lead to back pain after an accident. Because of this, there are many causes of back pain after a car accident and many different treatment options. Our Excel Pain and Spine team recognizes that the road to pain relief can be a confusing journey. In addition to providing customized, personalized treatment plans, we strive to deliver positive friction-free experiences at every touchpoint to make the journey as stress-free as possible. This is particularly vital when patients suffer from an injury resulting from an accident, and time is of the essence. If you have back pain after a car accident and need help getting relief to get back your life, let us know how we can help. If you would like to request an expedited visit with our providers, please click here.

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Low Back Pain Exercises You Can Do at Home

At-home exercises do not require any equipment and can help improve low back pain while helping to prevent it from returning.

Treatment Options for Back Pain After a Car Accident (1)

(Video) What Are the Most Common Injuries Suffered After a Car Accident? - Bachus & Schanker

FAQs

What helps with back pain after car accident? ›

4 Ways to Manage Back Pain After a Car Accident
  • Rest, Ice, and Heat. Rest is vital for the healing of your back injury. ...
  • Painkillers. Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen will help to reduce inflammation. ...
  • Gentle Exercise. ...
  • Massage Therapy.

How long should your back hurt after a car accident? ›

Back Pain usually subsides within six weeks in the majority of auto injury patients. However, the bulk of the pain should reduce within a few days following the injury as the affected soft tissues recover and the inflammation subsides. A proper pain management treatment plan may help speed up the recovery process.

What are the symptoms of back pain from a car accident? ›

6 Symptoms of Back Pain You Might Experience From a Car Accident
  • Pain.
  • Pain that radiates down the buttocks and legs.
  • Stiffness.
  • Numbness or tingling in arms, hands, legs, or feet.
  • Difficulty standing or walking.
  • Muscle spasms.
29 Sept 2021

Can a car accident cause chronic back pain? ›

In addition to injuries to the joints and bones of your spine, car crashes can cause the ligaments, tendons, and muscles of your back to stretch beyond their normal range. If you have a back strain, you may experience low back pain, as well as spasms.

Why does my lower back hurt after being rear ended? ›

Strains and Sprains: Back strains and sprains are very common after being rear-ended in a car crash. Most strains and sprains can cause muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the lower back to tear or overstretch. This can cause acute low back pain, muscle spasms, and muscle tightness.

How do you relieve pain from an injury? ›

RICE. It stands for rest, ice, compress, and elevate, and it's the go-to treatment for minor sprains and bruising. Ice the injury as soon as possible and put pressure on it with an elastic wrap or bandage. If you've hurt an arm or leg, rest with it raised above your heart to keep swelling down.

What happens to your body when you get rear ended? ›

If a driver is holding the steering wheel at the time of a rear-end collision, their arms and wrists often absorb some of the impact. This can cause injuries like sprained wrists, stress fractures in the arm, dislocated shoulders, and tendon damage.

Can minor car accident cause back pain? ›

A minor car accident can cause serious back pain. However, the severity of a crash does not always determine the seriousness of your injuries.

How long does it take nerves to heal after car accident? ›

Damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal cord can result in permanent changes in strength, bodily functions, and sensation. It could take your body up to six months to heal following a spinal cord injury. If surgery is required, it could take up to four months to fully recover.

Why does my upper back hurt after car accident? ›

Another possible cause of upper back pain after a car accident is a herniated, slipped, or bulging disc in the spinal vertebrae. Other than generalized pain due to sprains and strains in the back, some of the most reported upper back pain is due to nerve damage and pinched or herniated intervertebral discs.

How do you sit after a car accident? ›

The safest position in a car is to sit upright, like you would in a chair. Sit with your feet flat on the floor with your back resting against as much of the seat as possible. Car companies design airbags and other safety features under the assumption that all passengers will sit in an upright position.

Why does my butt hurt after a car accident? ›

Piriformis syndrome: The piriformis muscle is in your buttock, and if the accident caused compression of that muscle, you could experience pain symptoms similar to those of sciatica as well as muscle spasms and buttock pain in addition to leg pain.

Why does my neck and back hurt after a car accident? ›

The majority of neck and back pain resulting from a car wreck is caused by the whipping motion that is caused by the force of impact. This whipping motion is commonly called whiplash. You can feel the effect of whiplash from the neck to the lower back, and the pain can vary from minor to severe.

How can a back injury affect you personally? ›

Over time, chronic back pain can take an emotional toll on sufferers. Constantly dealing with pain and the stress of not knowing if the pain will improve can cause serious emotional issues. Depression, anger, anxiety and mood swings are just some of the emotional side effects of chronic pain.

Can you get a bulging disc from a car accident? ›

How Does a Bulging Disc Happen in a Car Accident? The impact of a car accident can cause the vertebrae to become maladjusted. This puts pressure on the spine, compressing the soft inner part of the disc and potentially causing the contents to begin to bulge out.

What happens physically after a car accident? ›

After trauma to your body from an accident, swelling is very common. You may experience swelling from tissue damage, pulled muscles, sprains (such as whiplash), and more. Swelling can be tricky because it may not reach full effect until hours or days later. When the area swells, it can cause a lot of stiffness or pain.

Is lower back pain classed as whiplash? ›

What is whiplash of the lower back? Whiplash of the lower back is caused by a sharp, sudden movement of the trunk either forwards, backwards or to the side. The injury is similar to whiplash of the neck but involves the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the lower back.

What drugs are used for pain relief? ›

Aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are examples of OTC NSAIDs. If OTC medicines don't relieve your pain, your doctor may prescribe something stronger. Many NSAIDs are also available at higher prescription doses. The most powerful pain relievers are opioids.

What's a natural painkiller? ›

Endorphins are the body's natural painkillers. Endorphins are released by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in response to pain or stress, this group of peptide hormones both relieves pain and creates a general feeling of well-being.

How can I relieve pain without painkillers? ›

8 non-invasive pain relief techniques that really work
  1. Cold and heat. These two tried-and-true methods are still the cornerstone of relieving pain for certain kinds of injuries. ...
  2. Exercise. ...
  3. Physical therapy and occupational therapy. ...
  4. Mind-body techniques. ...
  5. Yoga and tai chi. ...
  6. Biofeedback. ...
  7. Music therapy. ...
  8. Therapeutic massage.
28 Jul 2017

Can you tell how fast a car was going by the damage? ›

The severity of the damage can tell investigators important information. A minor dent may indicate that a driver was traveling at low speed or that the driver had nearly enough time to finish braking. Severe damage can tell investigators how fast a vehicle may have been traveling or how hard the car was hit.

Whose fault is it when hit from behind in car? ›

Generally speaking, under California law, if someone hits you from behind, the accident is virtually always that driver's fault, regardless of the reason you stopped.

Do airbags deploy when rear-ended? ›

Airbags are not likely to deploy in a rear end collision because the crash sensors are usually only fitted onto the front and sides of the vehicle. This is because regular airbags are designed to keep occupants from hitting the dashboard during a collision, and this doesn't happen when the car gets rear ended.

How long does whiplash back pain last? ›

Most people who have whiplash feel better within a few weeks and don't seem to have any lasting effects from the injury. However, some people continue to have pain for several months or years after the injury occurred. It is difficult to predict how each person with whiplash may recover.

Should I go to hospital after car accident? ›

After a car accident you could be injured or traumatised and medical treatment is very often necessary. However, you do NOT need to go to a hospital or seek medical treatment. Not seeking medical treatment does not mean you are not able make a claim for compensation after a car accident.

Which medicine is best for accident injuries? ›

As mentioned above, the most common painkillers prescribed in A and E Departments were paracetamol, ibuprofen, diclofenac, tramadol, and sometimes more than one painkiller. In severe pain, some patients received injection form of analgesics.

How do you know you have nerve damage? ›

The signs of nerve damage
  1. Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.
  2. Feeling like you're wearing a tight glove or sock.
  3. Muscle weakness, especially in your arms or legs.
  4. Regularly dropping objects that you're holding.
  5. Sharp pains in your hands, arms, legs, or feet.
  6. A buzzing sensation that feels like a mild electrical shock.

What are the most common injuries in a car accident? ›

Sprains, strains, bruising, and other damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments (soft tissue injuries) are very common in automobile accidents.

What does whiplash feel like in back? ›

tingling or pins and needles on one or both sides of your body. problems with walking or sitting upright. sudden "electric shock" feeling in your neck and back which may also go into your arms and legs. your arms or legs feel weak.

Can a car accident cause pain years later? ›

Back pain after a car accident can be the result of soft-tissue damage, slipped or herniated disks, whiplash, or spinal injuries. Back pain can plague you for months or even years, so seek treatment right away if you experience it after an accident.

Can I drive car after accident? ›

If your car is drivable, you can drive it away after an accident. However, if you have any doubts, you should get your car checked to make sure everything is in good working order. If you don't, it could invalidate your insurance and you'll be left without cover.

Which seat is the safest in a car accident? ›

001, 95% CI 1.02 - 1.26) increased chance of survival when involved in a crash with a fatality than occupants in other rear seats. Conclusion: This study has shown that the safest position for any occupant involved in a motor-vehicle crash is the rear middle seat.

What is the fear of being in a car accident called? ›

Dystychiphobia (Fear of Accidents)

What are signs of internal bleeding after car accident? ›

These symptoms can include lightheadedness, shortness of breath, fainting, and pain in the chest or abdomen. If you do not seek medical attention for potential internal bleeding injuries, you may experience shock, anemia, or even death.

Can you get compensation for sciatica? ›

You may be able to file a sciatica car accident compensation claim against the at-fault (negligent) driver who caused your crash to recover pain and suffering compensation as well as excess medical expenses and lost wages and other economic damages for your injuries.

Can you get sciatica after a car accident? ›

Yes, Car Accidents Can Sometimes Bring on Sciatica

Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched. This is usually due to a herniated disc in your spine. In some car accidents, the impact of the collision can cause a herniated disc, as well as damage to the surrounding connective tissue.

How long does neck and back pain last after car accident? ›

This displacement may cause pressure on the spinal nerves, causing severe pain. The problem typically resolves within 4 to 6 weeks, although some people may feel better within a few days.

What are the three most common types of back injury? ›

Common Types of Back Injuries
  • Sprains and strains.
  • Herniated or bulging disc.
  • Fractured vertebra.

How do you get rid of back pain fast? ›

Get Rid Of Back Pain INSTANTLY By Correcting This One Muscle

Can a back injury be permanent? ›

UNDERSTANDING YOUR BACK PAIN

There are many different ways you can injure your back, from strains that heal quickly to permanent injuries that lead to severe chronic pain.

How much compensation do you get for a bulging disc? ›

How Much is a Bulging Disc Injury Worth in a Lawsuit? The average settlement value for a bulging disc in a personal injury lawsuit is about $15,000 to $30,000. The median jury award in bulging disc cases is $31,000.

Can a rear-end collision cause a herniated disc? ›

Herniated disc: A disc is a cushion between the vertebrae of the neck and spine. A rear-end collision can cause a disc to herniate or bulge out of place. This causes significant pain and can cause mobility problems.

Does bulging discs qualify for disability? ›

If you have a bulging or herniated disc, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance or Long Term Disability Benefits. Call 512-454-4000 for a free consultation.

How do you sit after a car accident? ›

The safest position in a car is to sit upright, like you would in a chair. Sit with your feet flat on the floor with your back resting against as much of the seat as possible. Car companies design airbags and other safety features under the assumption that all passengers will sit in an upright position.

Can minor car accident cause back pain? ›

A minor car accident can cause serious back pain. However, the severity of a crash does not always determine the seriousness of your injuries.

Should you ice or heat after a car accident? ›

Many urgent care centers advise patients to apply heat to the neck, shoulders and back after an auto accident. Don't apply any heat- this will often make the injured areas worse. I suggest only using ice pack application until the level of pain and signs of inflammation decrease by at least 80%.

Can you tell how fast a car was going by the damage? ›

The severity of the damage can tell investigators important information. A minor dent may indicate that a driver was traveling at low speed or that the driver had nearly enough time to finish braking. Severe damage can tell investigators how fast a vehicle may have been traveling or how hard the car was hit.

Can I drive car after accident? ›

If your car is drivable, you can drive it away after an accident. However, if you have any doubts, you should get your car checked to make sure everything is in good working order. If you don't, it could invalidate your insurance and you'll be left without cover.

Which seat is the safest in a car accident? ›

001, 95% CI 1.02 - 1.26) increased chance of survival when involved in a crash with a fatality than occupants in other rear seats. Conclusion: This study has shown that the safest position for any occupant involved in a motor-vehicle crash is the rear middle seat.

What happens to your body when you get rear ended? ›

If a driver is holding the steering wheel at the time of a rear-end collision, their arms and wrists often absorb some of the impact. This can cause injuries like sprained wrists, stress fractures in the arm, dislocated shoulders, and tendon damage.

Why does my neck and back hurt after a car accident? ›

The majority of neck and back pain resulting from a car wreck is caused by the whipping motion that is caused by the force of impact. This whipping motion is commonly called whiplash. You can feel the effect of whiplash from the neck to the lower back, and the pain can vary from minor to severe.

How long does whiplash back pain last? ›

Most people who have whiplash feel better within a few weeks and don't seem to have any lasting effects from the injury. However, some people continue to have pain for several months or years after the injury occurred. It is difficult to predict how each person with whiplash may recover.

Which medicine is best after accident? ›

NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people.

Which medicine is best for accident injuries? ›

As mentioned above, the most common painkillers prescribed in A and E Departments were paracetamol, ibuprofen, diclofenac, tramadol, and sometimes more than one painkiller. In severe pain, some patients received injection form of analgesics.

Is it too late to ice an injury? ›

Use ice for inflammation within the first 24 hours. Ice is best as soon after the injury as possible, but never during the activity. Personal preference. After 24 hours, using heat or cold therapy can be determined according to your preference.

Videos

1. Auto accident treatment options when treatment failed | Pursuit Physical Therapy
(Pursuit Physical Therapy)
2. Back Pain Tips- Think You Might Have Whiplash From a Car Accident? Watch This.
(Fulk Chiropractic)
3. What are some common back injuries after a car accident?
(Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C.)
4. Case Study: $932,500 Settlement for Spine Injury Car Accident | Mullen & Mullen Law Firm
(Mullen & Mullen Law Firm)
5. What Causes Back Pain After A Car Accident?
(Arrowhead Clinic)
6. What You Need to Know About Delayed Pain After a Car Accident
(NUVO Health/Anniston Chiropractic)

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