Collision accidents – it’s not just whiplash!

Whether you are just driving to work or taking a big family vacation, an unexpected car accident can cause painful injuries that impact you for months and years to come. Sometimes it’s clear that a collision has caused an issue and we know to seek help, but one of the interesting aspects of collision injuries is that frequently it takes days or even weeks for the consequences to show.



Ever wondered why even low-speed collisions, be they an accident or simply an “encounter” with a wall or post seem to result in nagging injuries? It’s simply physics – the weight of your vehicle combined with motion and speed can create a tremendous amount of force, and notwithstanding measures built into modern vehicles which help to reduce this, some of that force gets transferred directly to your body.

The violent forces that occur during an auto accident can cause damage to your spinal discs, ligaments, tendons, and bones – parts of the body which are critical for normal functioning. After all, an injury to an arm or leg can be painful, but rarely interferes with our whole life – the spine and neck, by contrast, are constantly in use! Most common injuries after a collision accident happen because your head is whipped backwards and forward very quickly – this rapid back-and-forth motion frequently results in ligament tearing and spinal disc injuries.  Symptoms such as neck pain, back pain, headaches and sometimes confusion might suggest a whiplash injury.


It’s not just whiplash

Whiplash is the stereotypical injury associated with a car accident – but, actually, it’s one of only a small number of injuries we commonly see. You may be surprised to learn that shoulder injuries are some of the most common injuries after a collision accident in addition to whiplash.  Your shoulder is one of the most complex parts of your body and is made up of a collection of bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.   If you are the driver and have your hands on the wheel at the time of the crash, the sudden force created by the accident can lead to a torn rotator cuff.

Seat belt related injuries are also some of the most common injuries after a collision accident. Your seat belt can irritate impingement syndromes in the shoulder and contribute to other spinal injuries.  That said, remember this.  Seat belts save millions of lives each year and should absolutely be used every time you enter a vehicle.

In addition to head and shoulder injuries, a sudden stop or change in direction during an accident can also place a tremendous force on your chest.  What’s more, since your arms and legs are more than likely unsecured, they can strike the interior of your car, causing additional injuries.


Don’t ignore small issues

Ignoring any injury of any sort is not a good idea – If you’re in a car accident, no matter how minor, it’s important to get evaluated. For many of us, if we’re able to walk away from an accident without significant pain we assume we’re fine – but taking the right action steps as quickly as possible can make a huge difference in your overall well-being and healing if you have sustained some damage.

In fact, the injuries sustained in most accidents can be treated conservatively, and most don’t require surgery – but ignore an issue and over time it might deteriorate. Research has shown chiropractic care to be very effective at treating injuries like neck and back pain, headaches, whiplash injuries, and extremity issues. What’s more, if you have sustained a more significant injury requiring medical attention, a chiropractor may well pick up on that, even if you’ve dismissed it as “not too painful!”

If you’ve been in an accident recently, even a low-speed one – do yourself a favour and pop in for a check-up!




Blog by / March 10, 2023 / Blog

Dr. Paul Irvine is a doctor of chiropractic who graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of NSW and in 1996, attained his Master of Chiropractic degree from Macquarie University in Australia. He practised in North Sydney for 5 years before he left Australia to travel and practise in the UK. He joined Complete Chiropractic in 2003 (est 1999) and took over the clinic in 2007