According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3 million Americans are injured each year in vehicle accidents. Even the safest of drivers can suffer at the hands of someone else’s negligence or accident on the road.
In the year 2018 there were over 130,000 motor vehicle crashes in the state of Virginia, which resulted in more that 66,000 injuries–not to mention all the minor accidents and fender benders that often go unreported.
Typical injuries and symptoms from car accidents include whiplash, muscle strain and sprain, muscle soreness and discomfort, and for more serious accidents, injuries such as herniated discs, broken bones, ligament and tendon injuries, and more.
The upper back and neck are particularly sustainable to the type of injuries that are typically caused by car accidents, due to the rapid stop of a car colliding with another vehicle, slamming on the breaks to avoid an impact, or swerving out of the way.
Rear-end collisions and upper back pain are often linked, since in these types of accidents, the head is jarred back and forth–causing damage to the neck and upper back.
Unfortunately, pain and difficulty moving is a common side effect of back and neck injuries sustained by individuals who have been involved in a car accident. If left untreated, upper back pain can worsen and is a likely sign of a serious injury or complication.
Upper Back Injuries
It’s typical to have a little bit of pain and soreness after being injured in a car accident; however, if you have lingering upper back pain after a car accident, you should seek medical attention and evaluation since there could be a serious injury or problem.
Soft tissue injuries are the most common type of injuries sustained in car accidents, especially in the neck and back. The upper back begins where the neck meets the shoulders and ends at the bottom of the ribcage. This area is referred to as the thoracic spine and is made up of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.
Upper back injuries that result from auto accidents can range from minor to severe.
On the more serious side, neck strains and tears to ligaments can cause damage that makes moving the head or neck difficult and results in pain that radiates down into the back and the rest of the thoracic area.
For example, fractured spinal vertebrae can cause lasting physical damage and complications such as nerve damage, chronic pain, and even paralysis.
Discover the potential cause of your upper back pain after a car accident and get treatment right away. Even if your back upper back pain is mild, you should get checked out by a professional. Back pain can be difficult to diagnose, and even more difficult to treat.
If you’ve noticed upper back pain after a car accident or think you may have an injury, it’s best to be cautious and make an appointment for an evaluation.
Whiplash in the Upper Back and Neck
Whiplash is caused by the rapid back and forth movement of the neck and upper cervical spine, which causes pain and discomfort along with difficulty turning the head or neck.
This injury is the result of injured or hyperextended muscles of the neck, from the rapid back and forth motions that occur when the body is jolted during a car accident and continues to move even when the vehicle has stopped or moved in another direction.
Whiplash can cause pain to the neck and back, especially once pain radiates down from its original source. Although whiplash can be temporary, if pain has spread to the upper back area and continued or worsened within a few days’ time of an accident, it’s likely that the whiplash has caused real damage to your neck and back.
In this case, your whiplash injury will require a diagnosis and treatment to relieve pain and prevent worsening injury.
Whiplash injuries in the upper back can cause tendons, ligaments, and muscles to stretch and even tear and should be taken seriously.
Upper Back Strains & Sprains
Many patients injure themselves and develop strains and sprains through car accidents, often in the upper back area or in an area of the body that results in pain to the upper back. In fact, strains and sprains are the most common car accident injuries.
According to the Center For Disease Control’s National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, about one-half of ER visits for motor vehicle traffic injuries had a primary diagnosis of sprains and strains of the neck and back, contusion with intact skin surface, or spinal disorders.
A strain is an acute or chronic soft tissue injury caused by overstretching or tearing a muscle, tendon, or both, whereas a sprain is the equivalent injury of a ligament. Both injuries can cause pain, swelling, and limited movement in the area they occur.
A sudden impact, jerky movement, or overstretching in the heat of the moment of a car accident can result in strain and sprains, along with other related injuries.
If you are experiencing redness, swelling, pain to the touch or limited movement in an area that has recently been injured or felt sore, you probably have a strain or sprain.
Strains and sprains may seem like minor injuries compared to breaking a bone, but they still require rehabilitation and care, and these injuries can result in worsening pain or serious complications if not treated properly.
Another possible cause of upper back pain after a car accident is a herniated, slipped, or bulging disc in the spinal vertebrae.
Other than generalized pain due to sprains and strains in the back, some of the most reported upper back pain is due to nerve damage and pinched or herniated intervertebral discs.
The body has intervertebral discs between each vertebrae of the spine, which act as shock absorbers and help distribute motion to increase flexibility and range of movement. These discs are made of a tough outer layer (annulus fibrosus) and soft, gelatin-like center (nucleus pulposus).
A disk becomes herniated when the outer layer of the disk cracks and pushes out the inner gel-like material. The outer layer can rupture or become cracker due to trauma, impact, overuse, and a multitude of other things.
Herniated discs are more common in the lower back area, but they can also occur in the upper back as well. Symptoms of a herniated disc include pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and difficulty moving or stretching the back, along with weakness in other areas such as the arms of legs.
A car accident can be a very scary and sometimes traumatic event to go through, and pain often doesn’t appear until the shock of trauma has worn off.
Sometimes car accident injuries are obvious such as a broken bone or swelling and redness with pain appearing immediately, while other times discomfort may not develop for hours or even days.
For some injuries, such as whiplash or deep muscle injury, pain gradually increases over time, therefore it is important to undergo a professional evaluation to assess any possible injuries–even if you don’t think your pain is related to any serious injury.
Back pain is not always instant or acute after a car accident, and post-accident endorphins often mask pain that accompanies an injury-especially for injuries that aren’t visible. Therefore, back injuries are one of the most common injuries that show up in the days to weeks following an accident, instead of being felt right away.
Even if you don’t feel like you are in that much pain or assume that you are simply sore, it’s important to get evaluated for upper back pain after a car accident. Consult with an experienced chiropractor or physical therapist to perform an exam and diagnose your pain or injury.
How Chiropractic Can Help
For many individuals, upper back pain resolves itself after a bit of rest, icing, heat, or some over the counter pain medication.
However, if you have been in pain for longer than a few days and noticed pain with regular movements, then you should consult a chiropractor or physical therapist to get treatment.
Your injuries may have even affected your job, sleep, or ability to perform regular tasks and movements. If you have upper back pain after a car accident, even if it was a minor incident, there are steps that you can take to get to the source of your pain and start feeling better.
A chiropractor or physical therapist can work with you to create a personalized recovery and treatment plan, which can help to reduce pain and improve your strength and movement.
Chiropractic care is focused on providing natural methods for allowing the body to heal itself. Through attentive care focused on how the body works and what actions it need to recover, you can prevent a prolonged recovery and ensure optimal results.
From evaluating the damage to your upper back to creating a movement and exercise plan, chiropractors offer a non-invasive route to reducing pain and gaining back normal function.
Physical Therapy is a process of therapeutic exercise and stretching to restore the body’s proper biomechanics for optimal daily function.
Physical Therapy and active rehabilitation treatments are typically based on a patient’s unique injury and level of conditioning and are guided by a licensed physical therapist.
One important aspect of physical therapy includes neuromuscular retraining, which helps to build strength and maintain the gains that a patient has made.
A customized physical therapy plan typically helps strengthen ligaments, improve balance, and improve supportive muscles so that you have overall restored function, regardless of your injury.
Massage therapy often compliments chiropractic care that patients receive. Massage therapy is an essential tool for decreasing muscle tension and pain, as well as preparing the tissues prior to a spinal adjustment.
Massage therapists target the specific areas of your pain and can customize their massage techniques to provide relaxation while also releasing muscular tightness.
There are many different types of massage therapy, but medical massage to help with upper back pain after a car accident may include:
- Trigger Point Massage
- Massage Roller Beds
- Customized Massage Plan
In addition to chiropractic care, physical therapy, and massage therapy, there are a variety of other specialized treatments for upper back pain they may provide accelerated healing and relief.
- Cold Laser Therapy–From speeding the recovery of soft tissues to reducing inflammation and swelling, cold laser therapy can help accelerate healing.
- Electrotherapy– This treatment uses small electrical impulses to repair tissue, stimulate muscles, and increase range of movement, and improve muscle strength.
- Spinal Decompression–This technique uses a specially designed traction table to help realign and gently stretch the spine. Spinal decompression relieves pain and pressure related to degenerating, herniated, or bulging discs.
- Vibraflex– The VibraFlex® 450 mechanically stimulates muscles at a specific frequency, to allow patients to benefit from exercise without the constraints of conventional exercise (stress on joints, ligaments and tendons, numerous repetitions, etc.).
Make An Appointment
Upper back injuries can lead to lasting damage to your body, especially if left untreated.
At RxWellness, we diagnose the cause of your upper back pain and provide natural pain relief with the latest chiropractic care and technology. If you have questions about your back or spine pain and want to get your back examined by a specialist, schedule an appointment online today!