Back Pain After a Car Accident

car accident

Back pain is one of the most common complaints after a motor vehicle accident. In fact, motor vehicle accident/car accident is the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States. 

There is a wide range of spinal cord injuries. Some may be immediately apparent and quickly cause pain, whereas others have a delayed onset. Symptoms may emerge over the course of a few days after trauma. 

Some back injuries fully heal, and the individual is able to resume normal daily activities. Other accident victims may suffer permanent discomfort or disability due to their back injuries. 

Even accidents that seem relatively minor in nature may cause serious back injuries, due to the large amounts of force that are involved with motor vehicle accidents.

Common Types of Back Injuries Caused by Car Accidents 

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries may affect various regions of the spine, including the cervical spine, the lumbar spine, and the thoracic spine. 

Injuries to the cervical spine may cause paralysis in the trunk, legs, hands, or arms. Breathing and speaking may also be affected. Severe injuries may require 24/7 care and assistance with all daily activities. 

Thoracic spinal cord injuries may cause a loss of function in the legs and lower back, as well as the bowels and bladder. 

Injuries to the lumbar spine may cause loss of use of the legs, feet, and hips. 

Spinal cord injuries may be complete or incomplete. Complete injuries cause a loss of all feeling or movement below the injury site. With incomplete injuries, some movement or sensation is retained below the site of the injury.

In serious accidents, victims may become paralyzed due to their back injuries. Two common types of paralysis are tetraplegia and paraplegia. 

Tetraplegia affects the arms, legs, hands, trunk, and pelvic organs. With tetraplegia, an individual may essentially be paralyzed from the neck down. 

Paraplegia impacts the pelvic organs, trunk, and legs. Those with paraplegia may be able to retain the use of their arms, neck, and hands.

Herniated Discs

Each bony vertebra in the spine is layered between soft discs. These discs help absorb shocks and other blows to the spine. With a herniated disc, a piece of the disc is pushed out into the spinal canal. The displaced disc may press on different nerves and may cause pain. 

Since motor vehicle/car accident accidents often involve a great deal of trauma to the back and spine, herniated discs are a common complaint among many accident victims.

Ligament Injuries

Ligaments are pieces of tissue that connect bones. With a ligament injury, this piece of tissue is torn or otherwise damaged. One common cause of lower back pain is the lumbar strain, which happens when the ligaments in this area of the back are torn.

Facet Joint Injuries 

Facet joints are parts of the vertebrae in the spine. These joints allow the spine to move and bend easily. If the facet joints are injured in an accident, the injury can affect the way the vertebrae line up in a victim’s spine. The resulting misalignment can cause debilitating pain.


Whiplash is one of the most frequently cited injuries victims suffer in a motor vehicle accident. Whiplash occurs when the head is thrown forward and is quickly snapped back, damaging muscles in the neck and back. Whiplash is especially common in rear-end collisions.

Whiplash generally heals on its own, though car accident victims may be uncomfortable and in pain for several days or longer. Some cases of whiplash can be permanent, resulting in the need for lifelong treatment. 

How Are Back Injuries Diagnosed?

There are a number of ways in which physicians diagnose back injuries, including:

  • X-rays
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Spinal injections

Back injuries may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in treatment over an accident victim’s lifetime. Surgery, physical therapy, invasive spinal injections, medications, and other types of treatment may be necessary. 

However, an experienced Denver personal injury attorney can help car accident victims get the compensation they need to cover their medical expenses—both now and in the future. 

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should consult an experienced Denver car accident attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your claim. Your attorney will work with a team of experts to show the extent of your injuries and how these injuries may impact you in the future.

Contact Jennifer Donaldson Today to Discuss Your Back Injury Claim

If you have suffered a back injury in a motor vehicle accident, you need an attorney who will fight hard for you until you obtain the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at 303-458-5000.

Filed Under: Car Accidents