The Ultimate Guide to Car Accident Back Injuries

Author: Anthony Johnson Date: December 14, 2018

One of the most common injuries car accident victims face is to their back and shoulders. Back injuries caused by car accidents often require painful and expensive treatments such as surgery and physical therapy. Car accident back injuries can also leave victims writhing in pain for years after first being injured. Worse still, a back injury involving the spine could potentially leave victims with permanent disability or even complete paralysis.

This definitive guide will help you understand all there is to know about the various types of back injuries frequently caused by car accidents of every variety.


Not only is whiplash one of the most common injuries caused by car accidents, it’s also one of the most overlooked by victims. Put simply, whiplash is the tearing of soft tissue, ligaments, muscles in the neck. Whiplash often occurs when the head is violently thrown back and forth. While seat belts do an outstanding job keeping you from being thrown through your windshield during an accident, they offer little protection for your head. Even a minor car accident, like a fender-bender, can put a tremendous amount of force on the human body. And since modern automotive safety measures do virtually nothing to keep the head from being jerked back and forth, car accident victims are often left in a lurch afterward.

To make matters worse, many whiplash victims do not begin to experience symptoms until days or even weeks after the car crash. Common whiplash symptoms car accident victims experience are chronic pain, fatigue, minor headaches, dizziness, and tightness in the neck and shoulders. Regular physical therapy is the best treatment option available to whiplash victims.

Herniated Disc

Another part of the human body that absorbs a great deal of force during a car accident are the discs between the vertebrae in the spine. Such force can easily jar these discs out of their natural positions along the spine. This type of injury is known as either a herniated disc, a bulging disc, slipped disc, or as a ruptured disc.

Thankfully, many herniated disc injuries can be treated with non-invasive treatments that don’t involve surgery. Car accident victims who have suffered herniated discs should seek out physical therapy treatments and relief for the pain they may be suffering from pinched nerves and  improper posture.


An attendant disorder car accident victims with herniated discs may experience is that of sciatica. Sciatica is actually a nerve that stretches from the lower portions of the spine down the legs all the way to the feet.

Victims often feel shooting pains down their legs, sudden numbness, and weakness when they walk or stand. The best way to treat the symptoms of sciatica is through regular exercise or heat therapy. If such methods do not relieve the symptoms then you should consider visiting a chiropractor or a physical therapist. More extreme cases might require surgery.



Despite its unusual name, Spondylolisthesis is a rather common injury following a car accident. Spondylolisthesis is caused when a stress fracture pushes a vertebrae out of its natural position. This can lead to the nerves along the spine being pinched or compressed, causing severe stabs of pain in victims.

Car accident victims who suffer from spondylolisthesis commonly experience chronic pain, difficulty walking, sudden weakness, and numbness. Chiropractic care and physical therapy are the best ways to treat spondylolisthesis. If these forms of treatment do not work, then surgery may be required to return to the vertebrae to where it belongs.

Spinal and Compression Fractures

While seat belts have saved millions of lives since their widespread implementation in the 1970’s, they are far from perfect when it comes to protecting the bodies of car accident victims. Oftentimes, seat belts do not completely keep the human body strapped in properly. The hip and legs may remain secure while the upper body and head are jerked about violently. This kind of unnatural movement can cause multiple fractures in the spine. Such spinal fractures occur along the vertebrae and call a host of long term problems and difficulties.

Car accident victims who suffer spinal fractures often experience extreme pain while breathing, walking, or even sitting down. They may also struggle with incontinence, weakness in their muscles, and infrequent periods of numbness. The best way to treat spinal fractures, such as compression fractures, is with rest and relaxation. If a fracture is severe enough, however, you may need to undergo surgery to correct the problem.

Spinal Cord Injuries

An injury to the spinal cord is by far the most dangerous back injury a person can suffer from a car accident. The spinal cord is one of the most important parts of the body. Even a simple cut or a minor nick to the spinal cord can potentially cause disability or life-long paralysis. Car accident victims who suffer damage to their spinal cord are often left paralyzed and in need of long-term care by medical professionals.

Injuries to the spinal cord are extremely damaging and requires prolonged recovery periods. Outside of surgery there are few truly effective treatment options beyond surgery. Spinal cord injury victims face a difficult road to recovery and need a strong support system to make the best recovery possible. A damaged spinal cord is easily the most devastating injury someone in a car accident can face.

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer to help protect you during the legal aftermath. The attorneys with the Advocates have helped thousands of car accident victims all throughout Washington State. Unlike other personal injury law firms we put our clients needs first. When you have an Advocate leading your legal team, you never have to worry about insurance adjusters low-balling your personal injury claim by offering you a settlement that barely covers the cost of your medical bills. Don’t wait to contact our office today. You can either call us at (206) 452-4200 or chat online right now with a live attorney from our homepage.

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