Common Car Accident Injuries

After you’ve had a car crash it may be difficult to identify if you have any injuries, and if you do realise you’ve been injured, you may not be aware how injured you actually are. After a car accident, adrenaline is running high and your body produces endorphins. These endorphins can mask pain so you may not feel the affects of your accident until later on when the shock has worn off. Because of this it’s important to get a medical examination after a car accident, even if you think your injuries are small or non existent.
There is little correlation between the damage to your car and the damage to your body. Your car may be completely unscathed, but the sheer force of a swerve or sudden stop could have caused you an injury.
A car accident could cause a number of injuries on any part of the body, however, car crash injury reports show us that some injuries are more common than others.

1. Head Injuries

Head injuries can be caused when the head is struck by a dash board or other object. Even if the head is completely untouched, strong forces can cause the brain to move sharply and hit the hard skull. Both can cause bruising, bleeding or swelling of the brain, this can result in mild concussion or traumatic brain injury. If you have a minor head injury you could experience a mild headache, nausea, mild dizziness or blurred vision. If your injury is more severe, these symptoms can progress to unconsciousness, fits or seizures, sensory problems, repeated vomiting, memory loss or clear fluid or blood coming out of the ears or nose. Most people will recover from head injuries quickly and with no intervention, but if you’re injury is severe the sooner you get it treated the better chance you have of making a good recovery. This is why it’s important to get head injuries checked out, even if you did not actually hit your head and even if your symptoms are minor.

2. Neck Injuries

If your neck is injured in an accident you may not feel the pain right away. When people get neck injuries in car accidents they often feel pain in other parts of the body like their hands or arms. You may find that you get weakness and lack of mobility in your arms and hands, headaches, shoulder pain, or neck spasms. These can all point to an injury in the neck.
Even a minor car accident can cause damage to the neck. The head is quite heavy and the complex structure of discs, bone, tissue, nerves and muscle supporting it are not well equipped for dealing with extreme forces and angles.
Whiplash is one of the most common claims for care insurance companies. When the neck is over extended the tendons and ligaments in the neck become damaged. Whiplash will cause your neck to feel very stiff and tender, you may not be able to move it properly. After the accident it can take 6-12 hours for whiplash to develop.
A neck injury can also cause sprains or strains and damage to the discs in your neck, which can cause a lot of pain, stiffness and numbness. Many people think that neck injuries will go away on their own. While whiplash usually does go away on it’s own, sprains or disc problems are less likely to. These injuries need to be treated quickly to avoid chronic pain issues and to speed up healing, which can take months.

3. Back Injuries

The spine is such a long structure that is not surprising that the back can be so commonly affected by car accidents. Damage to the spinal cord can cause significant nerve damage. Many patients present with symptoms of pain and reduced function in their other body parts, such as their arms and legs. In extreme cases spinal cord damage can cause permanent paralysis.
The most common type of damage to the spine is a herniated disc. A spinal disc is a round piece of cartilage that sits in-between your vertebrae, cushioning them. The spinal disc is harder on the outside and has a jelly like texture on the inside. When the outside ruptures in an accident, the soft inside of the disc can push out through the tough exterior and irritate the nearby nerves. For such a small area it can cause a lot of pain, numbness and weakness.

4. Seat Belt Bruising Injuries

Seat belts are there to protect us. Thankfully, when our body is thrown forward in a car accident the seat belt is there to catch us. Unfortunately the impact of our body pounding into the thin seatbelt can cause nasty bruising and muscle damage. Minor bruising after a car accident is normal and to be expected, but sometimes the damage is so severe that it may require medical attention. If you’re having abdominal or chest pain after an accident, it’s important to get to the bottom of what’s causing it so that it can be treated. Don’t assume pain from the area where your seat belt was is normal bruising.

5. Broken Bones

There are different types of bone injuries, hairline fractures can heal relatively quickly but simple fractures or compound fractures can require months of physiotherapy and even operations or skin grafts.
The most common bones broken in an accident are;

  • Back
  • Hip
  • Neck
  • Wrists or ankles
  • Skull, face or jaw

Whichever bone is broken, and however serious the bone fracture is, broken bones can cause a lot of pain and disruption. Pain can continue even after the fracture is healed.
At Sheffield Physiotherapy, we work with many patients who have been injured in car accidents. Physiotherapy can speed up your recovery and help you avoid long term problems. We work in partnership with ASD solicitors, who are just down the road from our clinic on Ecclesall Rd. ASD solicitors help people who have been in car accidents claim compensation for their injuries on a no win-no free basis. ASD are committed to helping people recover quickly, and are able to offer free physiotherapy for their clients. Even if you consider your injury to be quite mild, you still may be entitled to claim.
If you have been injured in a car accident and would like to know more about accident compensation and free physiotherapy please call 0114 268 6677 or email

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The Author

Lewis Payne

Lewis graduated from The University of Nottingham in 2013 with a First Class Honours in Physiotherapy, worked as Sheffield F.C.’s first team Physiotherapist, and now runs a leading-edge private clinic in Sheffield. With over ten years of experience, he specialises in manual therapy, advanced technological treatments, and exercise-based approaches, focusing on spinal and joint conditions, sports injuries, and specifically complex spinal issues like disc pathology and scoliosis. Lewis leads in IDD Therapy, performing over 6000 treatments, offers MRI referrals and reviews, and employs a holistic treatment philosophy viewing the body as a Tensegrity structure. He excels in postural analysis, soft tissue release techniques, and prescribes biomechanical corrective exercises to enhance natural movement.