What Causes Upper Back Pain After a Car Accident?

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If you have ever been in a car accident, then you know how stressful the experience can be. From dealing with insurance to taking care of your health and safety, dealing with a car accident can wreak havoc on your daily life. If you start to notice upper back pain from a car accident, you will want to get that checked out by a car accident doctor as soon as possible. Whether it manifests immediately or appears gradually over time, upper back pain following a car accident can be a cause for concern. It is important to pay close attention to these symptoms, as they can signify underlying injuries that may require medical attention. Let’s explore the potential causes of upper back pain after a car accident, commonly associated symptoms, and possible treatment options to help you understand and address this discomfort effectively.

Symptoms of Upper Back Car Accident Injuries

After a car accident, upper back pain can be accompanied by a range of symptoms that could be a sign of potential injuries. Here are some examples of upper back injury symptoms you might experience in the hours or days after getting into a car wreck.

  • Pain and stiffness: The most obvious symptoms are pain and stiffness in the upper back region. The pain can vary from a dull ache to a sharp, intense discomfort.
  • Limited range of motion: You may notice difficulty or pain when attempting to move your upper back, such as rotating, bending, or reaching.
  • Muscle spasms: Injured muscles in the upper back may go into spasms, causing involuntary contractions that can be painful and disruptive.
  • Numbness or tingling: If nerves in the upper back are affected, you may experience sensations of numbness, tingling, or even a “pins and needles” feeling in the surrounding areas.
  • Radiating pain: Upper back injuries can sometimes cause pain to radiate to other areas, such as the shoulders, neck, or arms.
  • Headaches: Whiplash, a common injury after car accidents, can result in tension headaches that originate from the upper back and neck.
  • Weakness or loss of sensation: In more severe cases, upper back injuries can lead to weakness or a loss of sensation in the affected area or even down the arms.

Types of Upper Back Car Accident Injuries

Types of Upper Back Car Accident Injuries

Several types of car accident injuries can affect the upper back. Here are a few examples:


Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries and occurs when the head and neck are abruptly jerked forward and backward due to the impact of the collision. This sudden movement can strain the muscles, ligaments, and soft tissues in the upper back and neck, resulting in pain, stiffness, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

Herniated Disc

The force of a car accident can cause the discs in the spine to shift or rupture. When this happens in the upper back region, it can lead to a herniated or bulging disc. This condition can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the upper back and may even compress nearby nerves.

Sprains and Strains

The sudden jolt and force of a car accident can strain or sprain the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the upper back. This can lead to pain, inflammation, and limited range of motion. Inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury, and it can occur as a result of the car accident. Inflamed tissues in the upper back can contribute to swelling, tenderness, and stiffness.

Contusions and Bruising

The upper back can also experience contusions and deep bruising due to the impact of the accident. This can cause localized pain and tenderness in the affected area. Contusions typically result in immediate pain and tenderness in the affected area. The injured tissue may also appear discolored due to the pooling of blood beneath the skin. The severity of the bruising can vary depending on the force of the impact and individual factors.


High-impact collisions can result in fractures or breaks in the vertebrae of the upper back. These fractures can vary in severity, ranging from hairline cracks to more severe breaks. Fractures in the upper back can cause significant pain and limited mobility.

When to Visit a Car Accident Doctor

Seeking medical attention after a car accident, even if you don’t experience severe symptoms immediately, is crucial for several important reasons. Some injuries may not manifest obvious symptoms right away. Internal injuries, such as organ damage or internal bleeding, may not present immediate symptoms but can be life-threatening if left untreated. A car accident doctor can conduct a thorough evaluation and identify any hidden injuries that may require immediate intervention. Injuries sustained during a car accident, such as whiplash or soft tissue injuries, can have a delayed onset of symptoms. It may take hours or even days for symptoms to appear. By seeking medical attention promptly, you increase the chances of detecting and addressing these injuries early, leading to better outcomes and a faster recovery.

Chiropractic Care for Upper Back Pain

Chiropractic Care for Upper Back Pain

Chiropractic care can be beneficial in addressing upper back pain following a car accident. Chiropractors are healthcare professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal issues, including those related to the spine and nervous system. Chiropractors can also specialize in treating car accident injuries. Here’s how chiropractic care can help with upper back pain after a car accident:

  • Spinal adjustments: Chiropractors use manual techniques, such as spinal adjustments or manipulations, to realign the vertebrae of the spine. If the accident caused misalignments or subluxations in the upper back, these adjustments can help restore proper alignment, reduce pain, and improve mobility.
  • Pain management: Chiropractors can provide various pain management techniques to relieve upper back pain. This may include electrical stimulation, heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, or laser therapy. These modalities can help reduce pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms.
  • Soft tissue therapy: Chiropractors may incorporate soft tissue therapies, such as massage, myofascial release, or trigger point therapy, to address muscle tension, knots, and adhesions in the upper back. These techniques can help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve overall muscle function.
  • Rehabilitation exercises: Chiropractors often prescribe specific exercises and stretches to help strengthen and stabilize the muscles in the upper back. These exercises can improve flexibility, restore range of motion, and promote proper posture, which is crucial for healing and preventing future injuries.
  • Patient education: Chiropractors emphasize patient education and provide guidance on ergonomics, posture correction, and lifestyle modifications to support your body’s healing process. Your car accident chiropractor may suggest modifications to your workspace, sleeping positions, and daily activities to help prevent further strain on the upper back and promote optimal healing.

Visit a car accident doctor near you for a proper medical evaluation and comprehensive post-accident injury care. Pro-Care has a team of experienced healthcare professionals, including primary care and car accident chiropractors, who work together to provide you with care and treatment after a car accident. Contact us now to discover our comprehensive services, and book your appointment today.  

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