A Guide to Common Neck Injuries from Car Accidents

In the United States, there are about 869,000 cervical spine injuries that are related to car accidents each year.

If you’re in a car accident, it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible. Chiropractic care is one of the best non-invasive solutions for people who have been in a car accident.

Keep reading to learn about the different types of neck injuries from car accidents and how to treat them. 

Common Symptoms

After a car accident, you’re likely going to have adrenaline pumping through your system. This can mask some of the pain you might be feeling. While some victims feel symptoms right away, others do not. 

In fact, some symptoms could even show up two to four weeks after the accident. You could feel minor pain and stiffness to severe pain. Here are some of the common systems that you may experience: 

  • Headaches
  • Shooting pain
  • Stiffness or numbness
  • Limited mobility
  • Throbbing or aching pain
  • Shooting pain
  • Chills or fever
  • Nausea
  • Cognition problems
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Tenderness 
  • Radiating shoulder or arm pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hindered vision
  • Ringing in your ears

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and are in severe pain, you should go to an emergency room as soon as possible. Prompt treatment can prevent your injury from becoming worse over time. 

Different Types of Neck Injuries

You may have different types of neck injuries following an accident. Determining the extent of your injury is important because it will help you find the right treatment. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones. 


Whiplash is the most common neck injury after a car wreck. There are many different moving parts in your neck that give it its range of motion. If you suddenly hyperextend your neck and then snap it back, you can experience whiplash.

This type of injury is most common after you’ve been in a rear-end or front-end collision. It could also be accompanied by shoulder pain. In some cases, it can even cause memory loss and radiating pain through your arm.

Sometimes, it can take a few days for whiplash to show up. This is why it’s important to monitor your pain levels after an accident. Your pain levels from whiplash can range from mild to severe, depending on the accident and how far your neck snaps back and forth.

If left untreated, you could be dealing with issues of whiplash for years after the accident.

Abrasions and Lacerations

An abrasion is a scrape that removes the top layer of your skin. For example, the seatbelt could rub against your neck during an accident and cause an injury. 

Alternatively, a laceration is a deep wound or cut. It could be caused by flying debris from a car accident. These types of injuries also vary depending on the car accident, but if they’re severe, you should go to the emergency room. 

Muscle Spasms

A muscle spasm is also referred to as a muscle cramp. This can happen when your neck tightens or is impacted by a car accident. This can be unpredictable, and it feels like a muscle tightening in your neck. 

These can last for days or weeks after a car accident, but most of them are treatable. 

Herniated Discs

The intervertebral discs between your spine are composed of soft centers with a harder outer ring. They help keep your spine aligned, but they can move and get out of place. 

After an accident, you could have a crack in the outer ring. When this happens, the jelly center will start to move out and push on your nerves. This creates a herniated disc. This disc can also start to crowd bones in your neck, which can be severely painful. Thankfully, chiropractics can help relieve some of that pain and tension.

Pinched Nerves

Pinched nerves are another side effect of neck injuries. If you were in a rear-end collision, your spine could’ve shifted or been swollen. 

When the nerve is pinched, it can’t process pain signals in the right way. Because of this, you could then have paraesthesia. This can cause burning, numbness, or aching and shooting pain. 

Facet Joint Injury

A facet joint injury is an injury that affects the joints that connect the bones in your neck. When an injury occurs to your neck, the facet joints become inflamed, which leads to pain. 

Sometimes, they can even be dislocated from your spine if your neck extends farther than normal. This is one of the most serious car accident injuries, and if this happens, you may need a neck brace to heal. 

Neck Fracture

There are seven bones in your neck, and they can easily become fractured when you’re in a car accident. They can also become cracked too, which can cause severe pain.

You’ll need an X-ray to diagnose the issue, but you may suspect it already if you have a severely limited range of motion. 

Cervical Spondylolisthesis 

Cervical spondylolisthesis is a condition that occurs when one of your seven neck bones moves either backward or forward. It can be caused by a herniated disc or a neck fracture, but it can also happen when anything causes your bones to shift from their place. 

This condition can get worse over time, so you need to see a doctor or a chiropractor to address it. 

Treat Your Neck Injuries From Car Accidents Today

If you’ve experienced any of these neck injuries from car accidents, we know that dealing with that pain can be frustrating. 

At Anthem Chiropractic, we can provide chiropractic care to ensure that you get the relief and treatment you need. If you’ve been in a car accident, contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

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