Back Pain After Car Accident: When to See a Doctor 

What to Do About Back Pain After a Car Accident

back pain after car accident when to see a doctor

One of the most common car accident injuries sustained in auto accidents is back injuries. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there are about 17,810 new spinal cord injury cases each year, and nearly 40% are from a car accident. The pain and discomfort caused by back injuries can appear immediately after the crash or even a week later. Injuries such as nerve damage, a herniated disc, or another back injury could go unnoticed for days following a car accident. Read on to learn more about back pain after a car accident and when to see a doctor.


Types of Back Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents

Car accidents can lead to various types of back injuries, ranging from mild to severe. It’s essential to understand these injuries to assess the severity of your condition. Severe injuries, like internal bleeding or a traumatic brain injury, can pose life-threatening risks if undiagnosed. If back injuries are not properly diagnosed and treated, it can lead to more severe, long-term implications such as chronic pain and disability. Some common back injuries sustained in car accidents include:


Whiplash is a neck and back injury that occurs when the head suddenly jerks backward and then forward, straining the neck and upper back muscles. This kind of injury is often associated with rear-end collisions.

Soft Tissue Damage

Soft tissues, such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons, can be damaged during a car accident. This damage can lead to back pain and discomfort. The most common symptoms of soft tissue injuries include swelling, soreness, and a limited range of motion.


This condition occurs when one of the vertebrae in the spine slips out of place, causing lower back pain and potentially affecting nerve function. The impact of a car accident can cause the vertebrae to be forced out of place. Depending on the severity of the spondylolisthesis, surgery may be required.

Facet Joint Injuries

Facet joint injuries involve wear and tear of one or more facet joints and can lead to arthritis-like conditions. It causes the flexible cartilage to become rough and inflamed. This can trigger pain signals along the spine in the nerve endings and may require surgery to fuse the joint.

Back Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains involve the stretching or tearing of ligaments and damage to the back muscles or tendons. Lumbar sprains involve excessive force that can stretch the ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Both sprains and strains can lead to back pain after an accident.

Herniated or Bulging Disks

The force of a car accident can cause the disks between the vertebrae to herniate or bulge, putting pressure on nearby nerves and resulting in back pain. Herniated discs in the spine can result in pain, numbness, muscle spasms, tingling, or weakness in your arms or legs.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis occurs when the space inside the backbone is too small. This spinal cord injury can occur due to the force of impact in a car accident. Symptoms can include pain, numbness, a tingling sensation, and weakness in your neck, back, arms and legs

Lumbar Spine Injuries

Injuries to the lumbar spine, which is the lower back region, can cause severe pain and potential long-term issues.

Thoracic Vertebrae Fractures

Fractures to the thoracic vertebrae in the mid-back region can occur in high-impact motor vehicle accidents, leading to significant pain and potential spinal cord injuries.

Understanding the type of back injury you may have sustained is crucial for seeking appropriate medical care and compensation for your injuries.


Common Symptoms of Lower Back Pain

cervical spine

Lower back pain is common after a car accident and can manifest in various ways. Recognizing the symptoms is essential for timely treatment. Common symptoms of lower back pain include:

  • Muscle Spasms – Involuntary muscle contractions in the lower back, which can be painful and limit mobility.
  • Muscle Weakness – Loss of strength in the lower back muscles, making it difficult to perform regular activities.
  • Inflammation – Swelling and redness in the affected area, often accompanied by warmth and tenderness.
  • Stiffness – Difficulty in moving the lower back, which may make it challenging to bend or twist.
  • Sharp Pain – Sudden, intense pain in the lower back that may be constant or intermittent.
  • Tingling or Numbness – Sensations of pins and needles or numbness in the lower back or down the legs, indicating potential nerve injury.
  • Burning Pain – A persistent, burning sensation in the lower back, which can be indicative of nerve irritation.

If you experience any of these symptoms after a car crash, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly to determine the extent of your injuries and receive appropriate treatment.


What Should I Do if I Experience Back Pain After a Car Crash?

If you are suffering back pain after a car accident, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention and ensure you document your injuries. Experiencing back pain after a car accident is concerning, and taking the right steps can help you address potential back injuries effectively. Here’s what you should do if you experience back pain:

Seek Medical Treatment – Regardless of the severity of your pain, it’s crucial to consult a medical professional. A doctor can assess your medical condition, perform necessary tests, and provide a proper diagnosis.

Follow Medical Advice – After an evaluation, follow the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare provider. This may include rest, physical therapy, medication, or even surgical intervention, depending on the severity of your injury.

Document Your Injuries – Keep records of all medical visits, tests, and treatments related to your back pain. This documentation will be essential in a personal injury claim.

Report the Accident – Inform your insurance company about the car accident.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney – If you were involved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it’s best to consult a personal injury attorney. Experienced car accident lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and options.


What Kind of Doctor Should I See For Back Pain?

spinal cord injuries

Choosing the right healthcare professional is crucial when you’re experiencing back pain after a car accident. The type of doctor you should see depends on the nature and severity of your injury. Here are some specialists who can help with back pain:

Orthopedic Surgeon

Orthopedic surgeons specialize in musculoskeletal injuries, including those affecting the spinal cord and back. They can diagnose and treat a wide range of back conditions, from fractures to herniated disks.


If your back pain is associated with nerve damage or neurological symptoms like numbness and tingling, consulting a neurologist is essential. They can assess nerve function and provide appropriate treatment options.


Physiatrists, also known as physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists, focus on improving physical function and managing pain. They can prescribe non-surgical treatments, such as physical therapy, to help relieve back pain.

Pain Management Specialist

Pain management specialists are experts in addressing chronic pain conditions. They can offer various therapies and interventions to help manage and alleviate back pain.

The choice of doctor should align with your specific symptoms and diagnosis. Your primary care physician can often refer you to the appropriate specialist based on their initial evaluation.


How Long Does Lower Back Pain After a Car Accident Last?

The duration of lower back pain after a car accident can vary widely from person to person and depends on several factors, including the type and severity of the injury, your overall health, and the effectiveness of your treatment.

Mild Injuries

If you have a minor back strain or sprain, you may experience relief within a few weeks with conservative treatments like rest, physical therapy, and over-the-counter pain medications.

Moderate Injuries

In cases of more moderate injuries, such as herniated disks or soft tissue damage, recovery may take several months. Treatment may involve a combination of physical therapy, pain management, and, in some cases, surgery.

Severe Injuries

For severe back injuries, like fractures or spondylolisthesis, recovery can be lengthy, often taking several months to a year or more. Extensive rehabilitation and surgical interventions may be necessary.

It’s essential to follow your healthcare provider’s advice and attend all recommended follow-up appointments to monitor your progress. If your severe back pain persists or worsens, consult with your doctor to explore additional treatment options. Ensure you document your injuries throughout your treatment plan.


Can You Sue for Back Pain After an Auto Accident?

car accident lawyer

If you experience back pain after an auto accident caused by another party’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit to seek compensation for your injuries and related expenses. There are some key factors the plaintiff must prove in a personal injury lawsuit including the following:

Duty of Care

All motorists in California must operate their motor vehicles in a safe and reasonable manner. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed them a duty of care to drive responsibly and avoid an accident.

Breach of the Duty of Care

To have a valid legal claim, you must establish that the other driver was negligent, meaning they failed to exercise reasonable care, and their actions directly led to the accident.


It’s crucial to prove that the car accident directly caused or exacerbated your back pain. This often requires medical evidence linking the accident to your injuries.


You must have documented injuries, including medical records and reports, to support your claim. In a personal injury case, you can seek compensation for various damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.

It’s best to consult with a personal injury attorney who specializes in car accident cases. At Alpha Accident Lawyers, we will guide you throughout the entire legal process, and help you pursue full and fair compensation.


Compensation Available in Car Accident Cases

Car accident victims can pursue compensation for back and neck injuries after an auto accident. The specific damages that victims can seek often depend on the circumstances of their case, the severity of the injuries sustained, and the laws in their jurisdiction. Common types of compensation in car accident cases include:

  • Medical Bills – Compensation for all medical costs related to the accident, including hospital bills, surgeries, doctor’s appointments, prescription medications, and rehabilitation.
  • Lost Income – Reimbursement for wages lost due to the accident, including past and future income if your injuries impact your ability to work.
  • Pain and Suffering – Compensation for the physical and emotional distress caused by the accident and your resulting injuries.
  • Property Damage – Coverage for the repair or replacement of your vehicle and any personal property damaged in the accident.
  • Punitive Damages – In cases of extreme negligence or reckless behavior by the at-fault party, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter future misconduct.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as a serious car accident.

It’s important to note that the specific compensation you receive will depend on the facts of your case and the skill of your attorney in negotiations or litigation.

Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your potential compensation and guide you through the legal process. A car accident lawyer can help you collect and preserve evidence, file your personal injury claim, and resolve your case in a timely manner.


Discuss Your Legal Options with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Navigating the aftermath of a car accident, especially when it results in back pain and injuries, can be a complex and challenging process. To ensure you receive proper medical care and explore your legal options, it’s crucial to consult with a skilled personal injury attorney.

At Alpha Accident Lawyers our experienced car accident lawyers will help you seek compensation for your injuries and losses. By taking the right steps and seeking legal advice, you can work towards recovering both physically and financially after a car accident.

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