Updated on September 11th, 2023

What is the most common back pain after a car accident?

The most common back pain after a car accident is lumbar sprain. The lumbar is the bottom third of your spine.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Back pain is a term used to refer to a large number of injuries related to pain in the back and neck. Certain conditions may not be serious and even get better with time and rest. Other injuries to the back could require long-term therapy and possibly surgery.


At the top of the back, the neck is a very vulnerable area when it comes to injury from impact. With over three million cases documented every year, whiplash is the most common kind of neck injury. Over 50% of whiplash cases display long-term symptoms, and approximately 10% of people who experience this injury become permanently disabled.

Neck injuries such as whiplash, unlike other car crash injuries, are typical in minor rear-end accidents like fender-benders. Whiplash happens when the neck is suddenly forced back and forth, creating a motion like a whip. The force involved tears and stretches the tendons and muscles in the neck.

Sometimes, mild whiplash disappears with rest and time, as well as painkillers and compresses. But more serious instances of whiplash can lead to constant pain and even disability. For a severe case, treatment often involves physical therapy, neck injections, pain medication, collars, and sometimes surgery. If you were injured from a car crash, please contact our auto accident attorney for a free consultation.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative spinal disorder refers to a variety of injuries where the discs between the vertebrae are torn, damaged, pinched, or worn down, which causes serious back pain. Usually, degenerative disc disease is related to old age, but traumatic events (like a bad car accident) can cause early disc degeneration.

Degenerative disc disease leads to a lot of health problems, such as the following:

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Herniated (bulging or slipped) discs
  • Degenerative scoliosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Pinched nerves
  • Bone spurs
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sciatica

Pain from such an injury is normally called “discogenic.” This pain is normally characterized as sharp, shooting, and debilitating pain. This pain can occur when one is standing still or doing something that engages the disc. This sharp pain often moves down to an individual’s pelvis, posterior, groin, and feet regions.

Treatment for these disorders depends on the particular condition. It can range from pain medication, heat/ice compresses, electrical shock, and steroids to surgical solutions such as spinal fusion and removal of the disc (discectomy).

Muscle Sprains and Strains

Soft-tissue, which refers to the tendons, ligaments, and muscles that support the lower back, covers the whole back from the shoulders to the pelvis. When these tissues are overloaded by stress, they can be damaged. A torn ligaments or pulled back muscle can cause serious pain and spasms. Such an injury can take as long as six weeks to heal with treatment, though it may be months before some serious strains heal entirely. During the period of recovery, certain activities and positions can trigger spinal pain and therefore be difficult to do.

Injuries to the Spinal Cord

The most severe back injuries, without question, are the one that cause injury to the spinal cord. The spinal cord is composed of tissues and nerves that connect the brain to other regions of the body. The vertebrae in the spine are meant to protect the spinal cord, which is part of the central nervous system, from harm.

When a car accident causes damage to the spinal cord, there are usually serious, permanent and long-term injuries that result. One possibility is chronic pain and partial or total paralysis. There is also the chance of infection. Spinal fluid leaks, blood clots, and other major medical problems.

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Back pain after a car accident: Common injuries

A high-speed car accident that causes a spinal fracture or vertebrae sprain can lead to permanent and painful nerve damage. Likewise, A car accident resulting in a minor back injury left untreated can progress into a degenerative or chronic spinal condition.

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