Five Common Spinal Injuries From Car Accidents

Five of the most common spinal injuries from car accidents include whiplash, muscle injuries, slipped discs, broken vertebrae, and spinal cord nerve damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of people visit the emergency department annually for car accident injuries.

Spinal injuries are a common type of injury you can incur in a motor vehicle accident. The high forces involved in a violent car crash place significant pressure on the back, neck, and spinal column. Our team offers chiropractic adjustments and physiotherapy services to treat the following spinal injuries:

Woman got Spinal Injury After a Car Accident


Whiplash is a soft-tissue injury that occurs when the head moves in a rapid back-and-forth motion. The sudden, forceful movement that causes whiplash often occurs when the victim’s vehicle is struck from behind. However, whiplash can happen in any car accident. The adrenaline from a motor vehicle crash often masks whiplash symptoms, which may present days or weeks later.

Whiplash symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Neck stiffness and pain
  • Inability to move neck without pain
  • Reduced neck range of motion
  • Arm and shoulder tingling or numbness
  • Dizziness and fatigue

Although whiplash may seem like a minor injury, it is an uncomfortable condition that can affect your quality of life if left untreated. To ensure a safe recovery, you may want to visit a medical practitioner specializing in neck and back injuries. They can examine you, diagnose the extent of your injuries, and establish an effective treatment plan to return you to your previous state of health.

Muscle Sprains and Strains

Muscle sprains and strains in the back occur when a car accident places excessive force on the back muscles. The muscle, tendons, or ligaments and surrounding soft tissues tear or break, creating significant pain, swelling, and mobility issues.

Depending on the extent and location of your back muscle sprain or strain, your doctor may recommend a combination of chiropractic adjustments and physiotherapy treatments to promote healing, reduce pain, and improve your range of motion.

Slipped, Ruptured, or Herniated Spinal Disc

A ruptured or herniated disc in the spinal column can be extremely painful. Herniated discs occur when a car accident applies direct or indirect force to the spine. The soft discs cushion the space between your vertebrae, and they contain a gel-like substance that can push through a disc’s damaged or torn casing. The ruptured material can place pressure on nearby nerves and tissues.

Symptoms of a slipped or ruptured disc include:

  • Shooting pain in the area near the slipped disc
  • Pain that spreads down the arms and legs to the fingers and toes
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Weakness

Prompt medical treatment is crucial if you suspect you have a herniated disc. Chiropractic care can reduce disc herniation and eliminate the need for surgical intervention when administered as part of a complete treatment plan.

Broken Vertebrae

Vertebrae can break when objects directly impact the spinal column’s bones during a car accident. Fractured bones in your spinal column can pose an immediate risk to nearby nerves and soft tissues. Even a cracked vertebra can cause significant pain and discomfort, so it is critical to seek medical attention if you display the following symptoms after a car accident:

  • Severe pain
  • Swelling and bruising around the affected vertebrae
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in extremities
  • Difficulty moving your limbs

Cracked or broken vertebrae can take months to heal. Various physiotherapy methods may be helpful for spinal rehabilitation following a severe injury like broken vertebrae.

Spinal Cord Nerve Injury

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs through the protective bones of your spinal column. Spinal cord injuries are highly disruptive and can result in full or partial paralysis. Direct impact, intrusions, and indirect force in a car accident can all contribute to dangerous spinal cord nerve damage. Injuries affecting the spinal cord may range from compressed nerves to a severed spinal column.

Spinal cord injuries can be categorized as complete or incomplete. When the spinal cord suffers complete damage, the nerves from the injured point downward cannot connect to the brain. When spinal cord damage is incomplete, you still have some intact sensory and motor functions.

Both complete and incomplete spinal injuries may be treated using a combination of surgical intervention and physical therapy to improve mobility, reduce pain, and reduce the potential for dangerous complications.

Treatments Available For Car Accident Spinal Injuries

A multidisciplinary approach to spinal cord injury rehabilitation and treatment can help reduce complications and disability. Although some spinal injuries are incurable, physiotherapy treatments and chiropractic adjustments can help reduce pain, mitigate stiffness, and enhance movement.

Physiotherapy Treatments

Physiotherapy specialists use a variety of treatment methods to rehabilitate spinal injuries. Based on the specifics of your injury, they may use any of the following techniques:

  • Constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT)
  • Weight-supported treadmill training
  • Cardiorespiratory physiotherapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Resistance training
  • Electrical stimulation (ES)
  • Gait training
  • Muscle energy techniques (MET)

A recent study in the scientific journal Spinal Cord determined that physiotherapy interventions increased voluntary muscle strength in muscles directly affected by spinal cord injuries. In some cases, physiotherapy treatments can help heal spinal injuries and eliminate the need for surgical intervention.

Chiropractic Adjustments

Your doctor may also recommend chiropractic adjustments to promote healing as your spinal injury improves. A licensed chiropractor works closely with your treating physician and other specialists to create a safe, evidence-based treatment plan incorporating gentle chiropractic adjustments and physiotherapy to reduce pain and stiffness and improve mobility.

Treatments Available For Car Accident Spinal Injuries

Experienced Medical Professionals for Your Car Accident Spine Injury Treatment

These common spinal injuries from car accidents often occur with other injuries. To ensure you receive the care you need to make the best possible recovery, work with the doctors at Naples Community Injury Center. Our dedicated team includes a licensed neurosurgeon, medical doctors, licensed chiropractic physicians, and a full staff of supportive physician’s assistants.

We pride ourselves on our extensive knowledge and personalized approach to patient care. Contact us today at (239) 631-5445 to learn how we can establish a targeted treatment plan to rehabilitate your car accident spinal injuries.