Close this search box.

Back Pain After a Car Accident: What to Do?

How Common Are Car Accident Injuries

Back injuries are among the most common physical injuries in motor vehicle accidents. Even minor car accidents, such as a fender bender, can cause soft tissue and spine (neck and back) injuries due to the sudden jarring impact.

At times, the symptoms of these car accident injuries are not felt until hours, days, or even weeks after the accident. Back pain that comes on slowly is common and can be caused by a herniated disc, a spinal injury, or an injury to soft tissues. As the nerve roots become irritated and inflamed, the pain worsens.

Before getting into what actions to take when one feels back pain after a car accident, you first need to understand what could have led to the back pain in the first place.

Car Accident Patient Care

How Car Accidents Cause Back Pain and Suffering

When a car crash happens, the violent motion due to the collision can fracture, strain, and injure many body parts severely. The particularly vulnerable areas are around the spinal cord, neck, and back.

The back pain one feels after an auto accident is due to the force on the spine following the impact. Since the driver’s seat has limited space, the force abruptly stops momentum because it is confined to a small area. This impact’s brisk power then puts pressure on the back and neck.

Causes of Back Pain After A Collision

The word `back pain` here refers to a group of injuries that cause pain to your back and neck. Some of these are minor car accident injuries that can heal with home remedies; others are severe back injuries that require extensive medical attention or surgery.

Back pain can be due to any of the following car accident injuries:

Muscle Sprains and Strains

Even though broken bones are the most apparent type of injury after an auto accident, sprained and strained muscles often happen simultaneously. The lower back is supported by the tendons, ligaments, and muscles that run along the back from the shoulders to the tailbone. When pressure is applied, these tissues tend to stretch beyond their normal range, causing spasms and lower back pain.


Whiplash is a car accident injury that happens when the sudden impact makes the head and neck whip forward and backward. This causes damage to the spine’s structures, including the ligaments, tendons, and bones. If you have experienced whiplash, you may have pain in the lower back( lumbar spine), upper back (thoracic spine), and neck( cervical spine).

Bulging Disc

Between the movable vertebrae, there are 23 discs in the spine. Each disc works as a cushion between the vertebrae so one can bend and move easily. The force caused by a car accident can lead to the discs slipping and bulging out of place. When these displaced discs press against the spinal cord’s nerves, they cause back pain.

Facet Joint Injury

Facet joints are what connect the bones and spine. These joints help maintain the flexibility of the spine. Additionally, nerve roots pass through these joints and into the extremities. High-impact car accidents can cause injuries to the facet joint. This kind of injury makes it difficult to do simple daily tasks.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are a common and serious consequence of car accidents. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, car accidents are the leading cause of new spinal cord injuries, accounting for approximately 38% of all cases.

Spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal cord is damaged or severed, resulting in a loss of sensation, movement, or function below the level of the injury. The severity of the injury depends on the location and extent of the damage to the spinal cord.

Symptoms of a spinal cord injury after a car accident may include loss of sensation or movement in the arms, legs, or other parts of the body, difficulty breathing, bowel or bladder dysfunction, and changes in sexual function.

Back Injury Symptoms Following a Motor Vehicle Accident

Car accident victims feel sore and often find it hard to determine if their injury is back-related. Fractures, compressed nerves, and inflammation may cause back pain after a car accident. The symptoms one experiences range from manageable discomfort to a total inability to do everyday tasks.

Back injury symptoms one may experience after an auto accident include;

  • Sharp pain – After a car accident, victims may feel sharp, acute back pain, even with typical movements like getting out of bed or standing after sitting.
  • Back stiffness – It is common for one’s back to lose flexibility following a car accident. This is because the muscles had tensed up to protect the body, causing stiffness. This stiffness can subside shortly or persist for days if there is no medical care.
  • Burning pain – After a car accident, one may feel a burning sensation down the back, in the buttocks, and through both or one leg. This pain could be a short, mild one that lasts several days.
  • Discomfort and pain while standing or walking.
  • Tingling or numbness in the feet, legs, hands, or arms.
  • Disorientation or dizziness occurs due to whiplash or cervical vertebrae injuries.
  • Neck and shoulder pain can occur due to facet joint injuries.

What to Do

Since there is quite a range of signs and symptoms, you need to note how you are feeling and how often it happens and seek medical treatment ASAP. Then you can call your insurance company or take out a car accident claim for compensation for medical bills and mental and emotional injuries.

However, before getting to a doctor, these tips can help manage the pain:

  • Rest and apply heat to soothe tight, tense muscles. A 15-minute cold compress can help reduce any swelling.
  • Gentle exercise.
  • Massage therapy.

However, do not ignore the telltale warning signs of a back injury after a car accident. Even a minor back injury can become a degenerative or chronic spinal condition if left untreated. Have ave skilled medical professionals evaluate your spine for appropriate treatment.

Help for Back Pain After an Automobile Accident

After a car accident in New York, you must seek immediate medical attention and the proper diagnostic testing.

Diagnostic Testing

Debilitating back pain after an automobile accident requires you to see a car accident doctor who can treat a range of medical issues. It can be challenging to distinguish neurological back pain symptoms from other health issues.

At Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C., our skilled car accident doctor will identify the source of your back pain by doing a thorough physical examination and comprehensive diagnostic testing using state-of-the-art technology.

We perform electromyography (EMG) tests and EP testing to help get to the root of the problem. These tests help diagnose whether the issue is a nerve or muscle disorder and reveal any nerve damage or dysfunction.

Whiplash can cause two types of nerve injuries:

  1. Referred pain is the most common. It occurs when discs and ligaments agitate the nerves.
  2. Nerve Root Impingement occurs when the affected joints and discs interfere with nerve function through pinching and pressure.

We also help evaluate for traumatic brain injuries and use electroencephalogram (EEG) tests, sometimes quantitative EEGs, and when indicated, DTI imaging.

Trigger Injections

Any muscle pain related to the myofascial trigger points can be treated with trigger injections. At Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C. in New York City, we have three kinds of trigger injections.

  1. A Local Anesthetic – blocks the muscles’ pain receptors.
  2. Botulinum Toxin A (Botox for the Back) treats muscle spasms and prevents contractions.
  3. A Corticosteroid – reduces inflammation in the connective and muscle tissues.

Get Help For Back Pain After A Car Accident Injury

Our Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C. team can set up a treatment plan to get you back on your feet quickly! We diagnose and refer for appropriate treatment for internal injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, spinal injury, and soft tissue injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after automobile accidents for the residents of Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Long Island, and New York City.

If you have been in a motor vehicle accident and are experiencing back pain, you can reach us by calling (347) 602-9530 or emailing us:

About The Author

Picture of Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D. is a highly respected neurologist based in New York City. With over 20 years of experience in the field of neurology, he has earned a reputation as a leading expert in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders and traumatic brain injuries. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Malhotra is also a dedicated educator and researcher. He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and has presented his research at national and international conferences.