Can a Car Accident Cause Chronic Pain?

Updated on May 21, 2021

Chronic pain may result from a physical injury, and some injuries might not even manifest externally. To avoid chronic pain after a car crash, treating injuries requires a personalized approach based on the type of injuries you have sustained. Some of the most common car accident injuries include:

  • Neck and Back Pain. Car accidents are the leading cause of spinal injuries, accounting for about 35 percent of all new spinal injuries. Neck and back pain are some of the most common symptoms car accident victims ignore because there are no external signs of any injury. If you have back and neck pain after a car accident, you should always seek immediate medical attention. It might only be a muscle sprain, but the problem could be something more serious.
  • Whiplash. Whiplash is a specific type of neck injury that often happens in car accidents. It might occur even in minor fender benders that cause an abrupt forward or backpack movement of the head and neck. You might not feel any pain or other symptoms right away. The common symptoms of whiplash include:
    • Headaches
    • Pain in the neck, head, and shoulders
    • Stiffness in the neck and back
    • Loss of full range of motion
    • Dizziness and nausea

Immediate treatment includes over-the-counter pain medications and ice packs to treat muscular swelling. If ongoing treatment becomes necessary, you might need a neck restraint, physical therapy, steroid injections, heat treatment, massages, and prescription pain medications. 

  • Spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis happens when one of the vertebrae in your spine gets knocked out of proper alignment, which may cause a pinched nerve, which results in back pain and weakness. Serious cases can lead to the loss of control of your bladder and bowels.
  • Herniated Discs. This accident- or aging-caused disorder happens when the spongy cushioning layer between vertebrae slips out and becomes herniated. The layer loses moisture and irritates all the nearby nerves. Treatment options include pain medication, surgery, physical therapy, ice or heat, steroid injections, and muscle relaxers. 

Chronic Widespread Pain 

Chronic widespread pain, known as CWP for short, is a common symptom injured people may experience after a car accident. It’s not known whether the condition starts small and localized and grows larger or becomes widespread because of a failure to recover from the original condition. 

Recent research suggests that non-recovery from an injury seems to be the most likely trigger of CWP. Regardless of the true cause, about 11 percent to 13 percent of adults seem to suffer from chronic widespread pain, which is defined as pain in both the upper and lower body and left and right sides. Gaining a better understanding of the condition is currently a top priority of public health authorities. 

Mental Health Issues 

Some car accident injuries involve internal damage, which could be diagnosed by MRIs, CT scans, and lab tests, so it’s important to seek medical attention after an accident. However, not all accident injuries are physical, like a broken arm or leg. 

Most motor vehicle accidents aren’t fatal, but even relatively minor car accidents can cause post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and various phobias that remain a full year after the accident. 

A clinical study conducted by U.K. researchers suggests that up to one-third of the people involved in nonfatal accidents experience extended psychological distress. Those types of injuries affected passengers more than drivers, but both groups experienced stress and anxiety levels beyond what is considered normal.  

Getting the Help You Need 

After an accident, hiring an attorney can relieve a lot of your stress about financial issues. Recognizing that you have a persistent physical injury or psychological issue after a crash is important for making a prompt recovery or relieving years of chronic pain, stress, and mental issues caused by the accident. 

Getting the compensation you are eligible for after a severe crash can be daunting, as insurance companies will usually go to great lengths to reject or devalue claims that run into tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of medical bills. So, if you live in New York, consult with a New York motor vehicle accident lawyer even before filling one such claim. 

When you have an attorney on your side, it is less likely for insurers to try to resort to lowball tactics to defraud you of the compensation you are due when tragedy strikes.

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As a journalist, Leland D. Bengtson dedicated most of his career to law reporting. He aims to draw in the public and make people more interested in the field. He is active on multiple platforms to increase his outreach to the public. Leland tirelessly covers all types of legal issues, but he has a personal preference for medical malpractice. This is mainly because he witnessed the implications of medical malpractice on a family member.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.