Can a Car Accident Cause Permanent Back Pain?

If you have been in a car accident, you are probably dealing with the aftermath of this event. If so, between getting your car repaired, tending to your injuries, and trying to survive financially while you are unable to go to work because of your injuries, you have a lot on your plate. If this is your current situation, Miami accident clinic – Icon Medical Centers recommends that you place special attention on your injuries and get a thorough medical examination after the crash. This is due to the fact that some of those injuries may become permanent and forever damage the quality of your life. Read on to find out what happens if you have back pain after a car accident to try to keep it from becoming permanent.

What Happens to Your Body in a Car Accident?

Even in minor accidents, the body can be subjected to different forces. These may be acceleration, deceleration, and rotation, and any of these can put the body in unnatural positions due to the sudden and jolting motion of the vehicle.

Understanding the Back

The back may tense up, twist, and bump against different parts of the car, causing it to swell or present other injuries. Since it is made up of three main parts, the neck, the cervical vertebrae, and the lumbar vertebrae and these are surrounded by nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tendons, there are different ranges of injuries and pain that can be caused by a car accident. When a spinal injury is left untreated it may lead to chronic back pain, affecting the quality of the life of those who suffer from it.

What Are the Most Common Back and Spinal Cord Injuries?

These are some of the most common spinal cord and back injuries that can appear after an accident:

Injuries to Ligaments or Muscles

Sprains and strains are the two main types of injuries affecting ligaments and muscles. The difference is that while a strain stretches the ligaments and muscles, the sprains damage them. When you sustain either a sprain or a strain you will feel swelling, tenderness, bruising, and difficulty in carrying out your daily activities.

Injuries to the Neck

The neck and the cervical vertebrae may suffer permanent damage to the nerves, paralysis, and even death. Injuries to the neck tend to be the result of high-speed car accidents but whiplash can appear even in accidents that take place at lower velocities.

Injuries to the Spinal Cord

Injuring your spinal cord results in dealing with permanent nerve damage and disability. Even a partial injury to the spinal cord will produce partial or permanent immobility, loss of feeling in some body parts, and loss of reflex function. Sustaining a spinal cord injury means a complete change in the life of the victim, which will now revolve around therapies, treatments, doctors’ visits, pain management, and more.

Also, when there are spinal cord injuries, secondary risks may include spinal fluid leaks, pneumonia, complications from surgery, and blood clots.

Injuries to Spinal Discs

Spinal discs perform an important function. They cushion and protect the spine. However, during a car accident, these discs can become dislocated thus placing pressure on the surrounding nerves and the spinal cord. These herniated discs will produce numbness of the legs, sudden and intense pain of the lower back, and the need to learn how to cope with daily pain.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Back Injury?

You can expect to feel achy and sore during the first days after the accident. During that time, it is important to make note of any pain or any sensation that seems to be out of the ordinary. Be on the lookout for the following which may indicate that you have sustained a serious back injury requiring medical attention.

Injuries to Soft Tissues

When you injure soft tissues, you may experience muscle spasms, pinching, tightness, and back pain. You may feel the loss of normal movement and notice that the pain gets worse when you try to perform activities such as twisting, bending, or lifting.

Injuries to Nerves

One of the main manifestations of injuries to nerves is sciatica. It appears when a herniated or bulging spinal disc compresses the nerves in the lumbar area of the spine. Sciatica causes pain to one side and it is accompanied by weakness, tingling, and numbness in the lower back, buttock, leg, and foot.

It is important to pay special attention if any of the above appear and not dismiss these signs of back issues. Too many people assume that what they are experiencing will resolve on its own within a few days only to discover later on that the issue has worsened and may have become permanent.

Even a minor back injury has the potential of provoking chronic pain and degenerative changes in the spine when left untreated. That is why it is so important to get immediate medical attention after a car accident even if there are no obvious injuries.

How Can Back Pain After an Accident Be Treated?

Any back pain requires a visit to the doctor for an accurate diagnosis. With proper care, many back problems may resolve within a few weeks or months. It is important to find the right balance between taking the time to rest after an accident and remaining immobilized or on bed rest for too many days. Prolonged immobilization can result in the healing process slowing down and pain and stiffness increasing.

Your doctor may prescribe different treatments to address your specific back issue. These may be:


Over-the counter pain relieving medications and anti-inflammatory drugs may help reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger anti-inflammatory medications.

Heat and Ice

Alternating between ice packs and heat during the first days after the accident may also be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain.


Pinched nerves may benefit from corticosteroid injections that can provide relief for several days, weeks, or months.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is ideal when it comes to regaining strength and range of motion in the spine.

Ask your doctor how much you should move without affecting the healing process and what level of activity works best for you.

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