What Causes Neck and Lower Back Pain After an Accident?

Vehicle accidents often result in a range of injuries for those involved. Some vehicle accidents are severe and can cause life-threatening injuries to drivers and passengers. However, some vehicle accidents are relatively minor and do not cause any outwardly obvious injuries. Unfortunately, neck and lower back pain are some of the most common types of injuries that vehicle accident victims experience, regardless of whether or not the crash was considered severe. Here, we want to discuss the most common causes of neck and lower back pain after a vehicle accident.

Car Accidents are Likely to Cause Injuries

It is important to realize that, no matter how severe an accident seems at first, the mechanisms of these crashes can place significant strain on the bodies of those inside. The average passenger vehicle weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. Regardless of the speed the vehicles are going when a collision occurs, this type of weight can result in tremendous force is being exerted throughout any vehicle involved. Often, this force goes directly into the occupants of the vehicle. Additionally, vehicle accidents often result in a very fast deceleration and acceleration of the body, mechanisms that can also cause significant injuries.

When a vehicle collision occurs, we are looking at two ways that injuries can happen – injuries caused by a direct impact as well as injuries caused by various whiplash affects the body undergoes. Both of these types of forces can lead to significant neck and lower back pain after the collision occurs.

Our Spines and Soft Tissues can Sustain Trauma

The most immediate concern after any vehicle accident is whether or not a person has sustained spinal cord trauma. Our spines extend from the base of our skulls all the way through to our lower back, and they are the control house of our bodies. The spine is connected to the brain, and this is how our brain communicates with the rest of our body. Any type of spinal cord injury can result in partial or even complete paralysis.

The most common injury associated with vehicle accidents, regardless of whether the incident is major or minor, is whiplash. Whiplash can occur when the head or upper portion of the body is forcefully thrown forwards or backwards due to the force of a collision. This rapid motion can injure the bones in the spine, and it can also cause injuries to the discs between the spinal bones as well as the ligaments, nerves, muscles, and other soft tissues in the back and neck. The signs and symptoms of whiplash may not appear until hours or even days after a collision occurs, and this pain will typically be associated with the neck, shoulder, and upper back area.

Injuries to the lower back can also occur due to the whiplash nature of an accident as well as direct trauma caused by something striking the area. Some of the most common lower back injuries that could lead to significant pain include the following:

  • Lumbar sprains. Lumbar sprains can occur anytime the ligaments of the back are stretched or torn. This can occur as a result of a significant force on the body as a result of a collision.
  • Spinal stenosis. This type of injury occurs anytime the bone channel that holds up the spinal cord and nerves narrows for some reason. Often, this is a gradual chronic condition, but it can also happen as a result of direct trauma.
  • Disc damage. Pain anywhere along the spine can be caused by spinal discs sustaining damage in a car accident. Discogenic pain can affect all parts of the spine, but the lower back is particularly vulnerable to these types of injuries.
  • Disc herniation. Disc herniation happens anytime the inner filling of the disks inside our spine protrudes through the outer layer. The pain in these situations comes from the material coming in contact with the spinal nerves.

We strongly recommend that all vehicle accident victims seek immediate medical care after a car accident occurs. A doctor needs to conduct a complete evaluation of a crash victim in order to diagnose lower back and neck pain, take preventative measures to keep the injury from getting worse, and help the injury victim make a full recovery.