Motor vehicle collisions… not just a pain in the neck!

Motor vehicle collisions (car crashes to you and me) are one of the leading causes of neck injury in the UK, and one of the most common issues which eventually lead to chiropractic treatment for neck pain. The other big one, by the way, is poor posture. Research now shows, however, that car crashes can also increase your risk of low back pain, which often develops after the fact.


Car crash injuries

Being part of a car crash can be a traumatic incident – sadly, many people lose their lives this way and many more suffer serious injuries. For every serious case, however, there are a huge number of minor incidents which go unreported – after all, reversing into a post can’t injure you, can it? Actually, it can – research has shown that whiplash-type injuries can occur as a result of collisions which occur at as few as 5 miles per hour (which is about walking pace).

Whiplash is the most common type of injury which results from lower impact car crashes, but many forms of back and neck pain are often reported. Typically, symptoms will start with stiffness and aching as the initial shock subsides followed by neck & shoulder pain, back pain, headaches, muscle spasms, dizziness and pins and needles. In general, the symptoms that result from damage to the body from car accidents can last from a few weeks to months or become chronic problems lasting for years when appropriate treatment is not given.


Car crash and low back pain – study results.

Building on recent research which has shown a link between car crashes and low back pain, a meta-study (a study of studies, the type which gives us a very good overview of research) has concluded that is a  consistent positive association between back pain, and MVC-related injury. For the patient with chronic low back pain who was initially injured in a MVC, more often than not (63 % of the time) the condition was caused by the MVC. [1]

Does this mean that all MVC’s cause low back pain? No – but it does mean that if you’ve suffered a car crash, you should see a chiropractor sooner rather than later, as your risk is very much elevated.


Had a car crash – see the Chiropractor!

The problem with car crashes is that even when they do not cause immediate injuries, they can cause micro-injuries, such as spinal misalignment, which, over time, build up to become a painful problem. In fact, many of the people we see at the clinic suffering from back pain after a car crash don’t present themselves for treatment until months after the initial accident when these small issues have grown into big ones. The good news is that these kinds of problems are highly treatable, and we’re usually able to have people back to normal very quickly – but by this point, the patient has often suffered from weeks or months of pain.

If you’ve had a car accident, we, therefore, suggest you see a chiropractor right away  – an initial consultation it more than justified if you’ve been in an accident, and can allow you to discover and deal with any minor issues which have resulted before they turn into painful complaints.


[1] Paul S Nolet, Peter C Emary, Vicki L Kristman, Kent Murnaghan, Maurice P Zeegers, Michael D Freeman, Exposure to a Motor Vehicle Collision and the Risk of Future Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis  Accident; Analysis and Prevention 2020 (May 18);   142:  105546

Blog by / November 27, 2020 / 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