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What to do about neck and back pain after a car accident

Neck and Back Pain After Car Accident
3 minutes, 54 seconds

Neck injuries are one of the most common types of injuries in car accidents, often resulting in long-term symptoms. Unfortunately, neck and back pain after a car accident can range from being a mild discomfort to a debilitating condition that affects your ability to perform daily activities. If your neck and back pain has gotten difficult to live with after your car accident, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to restore your mobility and ease your pain. 

Neck and back pain after a car accident may also involve the following symptoms: 

Some symptoms after an accident may not become apparent until hours or even days after the accident. If at any point you experience more intense symptoms such as shooting pain, frequent migraines, constant imbalance or frequent nausea, you should see a medical professional as soon as possible. It's also important to note that neck and back pain after a car accident can be symptoms of a serious injury like a concussion or spinal cord injury. It’s therefore crucial to have a proper diagnosis to establish an appropriate physical therapy treatment plan that fits your symptoms. 

Why do you feel neck and back pain after a car accident?

Feeling neck and back pain after an accident can occur as a result of several factors. One of the main causes is trauma to the soft tissue of the neck and back, such as muscles, tendons and ligaments. The impact of the accident can cause this tissue to stretch or tear, leading to pain, swelling and inflammation. For example, the sudden and forceful movement of your head, neck, and back during an accident’s impact can cause your spine to be thrown out of alignment, leading to pain and discomfort. Additionally, an accident can also cause damage to your spinal discs, leading to herniated or bulging discs, which can cause pain and nerve compression.

Whiplash is another common injury that occurs as a result of an accident. Whiplash is caused by the rapid forward and backward movement of the head and neck during an accident, which can cause damage to the muscles and ligaments of the neck, leading to pain and stiffness.

Your doctor can diagnose your injuries immediately after your car accident, using imaging technologies to pinpoint the specific source of your neck and back pain, whether it’s a muscle strain or spine fracture. Your test results can also help your physical therapist design a treatment plan that targets your symptoms. 

What can you do to ease back pain after a car accident?

Neck and back pain after a car accident can be debilitating and can greatly impact your quality of life. While healing at home after your car accident, you should try a combination of noninvasive treatments to address your neck and back pain and prevent further injury. Here are some things you can do to ease your neck and back pain after a car accident:

  • Rest — After an accident, it is important to rest your body to allow it to heal. Resting allows your body to reduce inflammation in your damaged tissue as well as limit muscle spasms and pain levels. In addition, if you continue to move your neck or back, you can cause more harm to the affected area and make your injury worse. While healing after a car accident, you should avoid activities that may strain your neck and back, such as lifting heavy objects.
  • Apply ice or heat — If your neck and back constantly ache while at home, you can try applying ice to the affected area. Ice can help reduce inflammation and pain, while applying heat can help relax your tight muscles and increase blood flow. Be sure to wrap the ice or heat source in a towel to avoid frostbite or burns.
  • Go to physical therapy — A physical therapist can work with you to develop an exercise program that strengthens the muscles in your neck and back, improves your mobility, lowers your inflammation, and reduces your pain. They can also teach you proper techniques for lifting, bending and sitting to help prevent future injuries. In addition, physical therapists can offer soft tissue mobilization therapy to help relax tight muscles and improve circulation, which can then help reduce pain and inflammation.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for neck and back pain post-accident

Your neck and back control the majority of your body movements. When they’re compromised as a result of a car accident, you can lose your mobility and independence. Physical therapy can help restore your mobility and strength. At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. 

Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address your neck and back pain after a car accident.

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Come find help for your injury today!


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