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Neck and Back Pain After Car Accident


After an accident, many people do not get a medical evaluation. They think they feel fine at first, but then notice some pain a few days after the accident. They don’t understand how back injuries can lurk in the background. Many back injuries take time to appear. It may be a day or more before back pain flares up. Don’t assume that pain a day or two after an accident is unrelated to the crash. If you were involved in a car accident, the chances are that the tremendous force of the crash has caused problems. Even if you feel no pain, it’s still important to get an evaluation.

If you have been involved in an accident, make sure you get a medical evaluation within 72 hours of the crash. This will allow medical professionals to examine your health and it will provide medical documentation for a back injury claim. The examination will help doctors and other medical professionals track any future pain that may develop.

Doctors may order MRI scans, CT scans, x-rays, nerve studies, or other diagnostic tests. It’s important to get these tests done because they may reveal damaged areas in your back. The sooner you are evaluated, the sooner you can start treatment. The medical diagnosis of your back injury will provide a foundation for your car accident claim. Protect your health and your claim after an accident: get an examination as soon as you can.


Back pain can last months, years, or even a lifetime. It depends on the type of injury and its severity. It also depends on factors such as the victim’s age, health, and position in the accident. While no set formula can tell you how long your pain will last, there are common types of back injuries that rear-end collisions produce. These common injuries may include:

  • Muscle strain. A car accident can put a lot of force on your body. Even a low-speed impact can exert a massive amount of force on your back and spine. When you feel yourself being thrown by an accident, your body will react before you have time to think. It will try to protect itself and keep itself in place by tightening muscles. The trouble is that these muscles can be strained or torn by resisting the force of the impact. The results can be acute back pain that can last from days to weeks.
  • Whiplash. Whiplash is a common injury in rear-end accidents. Whiplash happens when the head snaps backward, then forward after an impact. The flexing of the neck beyond its normal range of motion can cause muscle strain, injury to spinal discs, headaches, and other back and neck problems. For most people, the symptoms of whiplash last six to eight weeks, but for others the pain can last years.
  • Herniated discs. When a disc bulges, or ruptures, it can pinch nerves and interfere with the normal movement of your spine. Treatment such as physical therapy and pain medication can help manage the symptoms. In some cases, surgery may be needed to repair the disc and relieve pressure on the pinched nerve.
  • Shifted and fractured spinal vertebrae. When your body is subjected to the forces of a car accident, spinal vertebrae may fracture or be forced out of their natural position. The condition is known as spondylolisthesis. The shifted vertebra may cause pain, numbness, weakness or difficulty walking. Recovery from these types of injuries may require specialized treatment or therapy and pain can last from a couple of months to years.


In the shock and confusion immediately after a car accident, you may not realize that you’re injured.

Some post car accident symptoms can take days or even weeks to recognize.

Even if you feel okay in the minutes and hours after an accident it’s important to know what symptoms to look for.

Keep reading for 10 post car accident symptoms to watch out for.

1. Headaches are Common Post Car Accident Symptoms

Headaches are one of the most common post car accident symptoms. You may not experience pain or discomfort right away but wake up the next morning, days or weeks later.

You may experience headaches because of vision issues or any number of other causes after an accident. It could be as benign as a tension headache or from something as serious as a traumatic brain injury.

There are many reasons for headaches after a car accident:


Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be frustrating. You have insurance claims to file, car repairs to arrange, extra expenses to cover, medical symptoms to deal with. There’s a lot going on and for that reason, it’s not unusual for people to get tension headaches after a car accident.


concussion can be very serious and needs a healthcare professional’s attention. There will most likely be other symptoms that stem from a concussion such as:

  • blurred or double vision
  • nausea
  • sensitivity to light or noise
  • mood, sleep, and appetite changes

Concussions can cause chronic symptoms and long-term effects.


Whiplash can exhibit many of the same symptoms as a concussion. The sudden jarring force of the impact can stretch the muscles and tendons in and around your neck.

Ligaments, joints, nerves, and discs are often injured during accidents. All can cause intense pain afterward. You may feel fine until you use your arms or move around in everyday life.

Some other whiplash symptoms to watch out for include:

  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • pain in shoulder, neck, or head
  • stiff and sore muscles
  • blurred or double vision
  • restricted range of motion

Whiplash often takes a while to diagnose and it’s important to be aware of any post car accident symptoms that could be from whiplash.

Post-Traumatic Stress

Post-traumatic stress disorder is not just suffered by soldiers. Any traumatic event can lead to long-term symptoms.

You don’t have to be physically injured or even a participant in the accident to experience post-traumatic stress as a result of it.

Witnesses, first responders, family members, and others are also affected.

Some signs of post-traumatic stress disorder are:

  • Flashbacks, nightmares, or distressing memories of the event
  • Anxiety surrounding anything that reminds you of the accident. This could be a smell, sound or sight.
  • Mood changes, appetite, and sleep changes,
  • inability to concentrate, general anxiety and depression

A persistent headache needs a medical professional to diagnose the cause. They will also be able to provide pain management options.

2. Neck and Shoulder Pain

Neck and shoulder pain after car accidents can be for several reasons:

  • Tension and stress
  • Nerve damage
  • Muscle, tendon, and joint injury
  • Tissue damage

Shoulder and neck pain are common post car accident symptoms related to whiplash, concussion, and other serious things you shouldn’t ignore.

3. Mood and Behavior Changes

Loved ones may notice these symptoms before you realize them yourself. Mood and behavior changes can indicate a concussion, post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety disorders and more.

Irritability, emotional mood swings, and becoming withdrawn may be signs of unresolved issues around the accident.

Seeking help and support from loved ones or a counselor can be beneficial as you recover from the accident and its physical, emotional and financial aftermath.

4. Eating and Sleeping Changes

Lack of appetite isn’t unusual when dealing with post car accident symptoms. This may be due to stress, an upset stomach, concussion, depression, or other reasons.

If you’re concerned about your decreased appetite it may be wise to consult with a health or nutrition professional. They can give you tips and suggestions on how to get your eating back on track.

Emotional or stress eating may also be a response to the stress of a car accident. Seek support from friends, family, or a counselor to help cope with the emotions you are struggling with.

Difficulty sleeping may be a result of other symptoms interfering with your ability to get to sleep or stay in a sound slumber. Pain, nightmares, and stress can all affect your ability to fall or stay asleep.

5. Tingling or Numbness

Experiencing tingling or numbness in your neck, shoulder, extremities or back may be a symptom of nerve or tissue damage.

A pinched nerve can be very painful and will require medical intervention to properly treat. Physiotherapy, TENS machines, nerve blocks, and other treatments have been effective for many but can lead to long-term difficulties in some cases.

6. Abdominal Pain and Nausea

Abdominal pain may be the result of internal bruising or more serious internal bleeding or injury.

Seatbelts pull tight across the abdomen when a car accident occurs. This can lead to tenderness and pain that may not be fully felt until days later.

Nausea is a symptom that may be from stress or a sign of injury.

7. Bruising and Discoloration

Bruises don’t always show immediately. It can take a few days before the blood from a broken vessel seeps to your skin surface.

You can bruise or injure internal organs, tissue, and bones that may lead to delayed visible bruising on the skin surface.

Most contusions are not a major concern but if the bruising, discoloration and tenderness continue you should seek medical consultation to find out the cause.

8. Swelling or Stiffness

Swelling and stiffness are common symptoms after a motor vehicle accident. It may take a few hours or even days before you feel the full effect of an injury.

As sprains, pulled muscles and damaged tissue tried to heal it will often swell. This swelling can add to stiffness and reduce your range of motion for the affected area.

If you experience swelling around joints some steps to treat it include:

  • rest and elevate
  • ice
  • immobilize or wrap

After trying all of these, if you still experience swelling and stiffness you may require medical attention or physical therapy to get your range of motion back.

9. Dizziness and Changes in Vision

Double vision, blurred vision, and dizziness experienced in the hours, weeks or days after an accident are noteworthy post car accident symptoms. This could be because of a concussion, post-traumatic stress, whiplash or another underlying issue.

These issues may resolve themselves with time or require medical testing to determine the cause and treat the illness or condition responsible.

10. Changes in Hearing or Tinitis

Ringing in the ears or tinnitus can be an annoying issue that many have to deal with as a post-car accident symptom.

It may be from the loud noise of the impact, shock, concussion, or stress. This may be a symptom that you have to wait out as there are limits to effective treatments for tinnitus.

It’s always wise to get a healthcare professional’s opinion and advice if you are experiencing changes in hearing or tinnitus post car accident.

11. Back Pain

Back pain can be debilitating and unfortunately can come out of nowhere as a post-car accident symptom. It may be muscle tightness or bruising if the pain is aching and generalized discomfort.

If shooting pain travels down the spine or extremities it could be from damaged or pinched nerves.

Sciatica pain begins in the lower back usually and will travel down the leg. It may be a constant ache or shooting pain.

Pain management, physio, and other interventions may be necessary to treat acute or chronic back pain after a car accident.

12. Lack of Concentration and Memory Loss

Lack of concentration and memory loss can be from head injuries, concussions, stress and more.

You may find it hard to carry on a conversation or finish simple tasks. Your memory may also be due to stress, pain, or other mental and physical health complications.

Traumatic head injuries and stress can lead to difficulty forming thoughts or expressing yourself. While it may be just that you have a million things on your mind and can’t think about all of them at once you should seek medical help if your symptoms are interfering with activities of daily living.

Post-concussion syndrome can last for months or even years leaving the individual with difficulty speaking, critical thinking or recalling information.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family

After a car accident make sure you pay attention to and document any symptoms you experience. Even if the symptoms don’t manifest until days or weeks later it’s important not to discount them.

Protecting and taking care of yourself and your family is the most important thing after an accident. This means not only getting medical advice but legal advice on your post car accident symptoms.




At The Law Firm, we know how disruptive car accident injuries can be. Car accidents can lead to back injuries and pain that can affect the ability to work and to enjoy life. You should not have to live with chronic pain from a car accident. Get the medical attention you need, then get legal assistance to help you pursue compensation from the driver responsible for your injuries.

Our lawyers at The ___ Sawaya Law Firm have handled back injury claims in Denver and throughout Colorado and are committed to seeking just compensation for each client. We will investigate your accident and work with you to develop your back injury claim. If you’ve suffered a spine injury or are experiencing back pain after a car accident, we’ll fight to set things right for you. Contact us for a free consultation.

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