Muscle Pain After Car Accident: Causes and Common Treatments

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With more than 650 muscles in the human body, it’s no wonder why muscle pain after a car accident is so common. Trauma from a collision can severely damage the soft tissues of the body. Muscle pain is often caused by soft tissue injuries, like strains, sprains, and whiplash.

Your body’s hundreds of muscles are necessary to keep you mobile. After an accident, these muscles can become stretched, torn, and swollen. Without medical treatment, damage to your muscles may permanently impact your livelihood and mobility.

If you believe that you have suffered a muscle injury from a car crash, now is the time to visit a doctor. A medical professional can offer a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to get you back on your feet. Learn more about what causes muscle pain after a car accident and how it’s treated.

Common Symptoms of Muscle Injuries

Car accident victims primarily suffer skeletal muscle injuries or damage to the muscles that attach to bones and help move the limbs. These muscles can be found from head to toe, so the symptoms of a muscle injury after a car accident will vary depending on the injury site. Muscle injury symptoms can begin immediately after the crash or several days after the incident.

Some of the most common symptoms of a muscle injury include:

  • Fatigue
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle spasms
  • Upper back pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Burning or tingling
  • Severe muscle aches
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Bruising or discoloration in the affected area
  • Sore muscles even when not moving
  • Numbness in the fingers or toes

A muscle injury may make the skin above the affected area feel warm to the touch. You could experience a heating sensation as blood rushes to protect and heal the damaged muscle.

What Causes Muscle Pain, Soreness, and Aches After an Accident?

Closeup of young woman touching waist in park

Muscles play a large role in keeping the human body mobile, so they’re often the most prone to damage during a motor vehicle collision. This is even more true for car accident victims who grip onto their steering wheel before an accident or throw their arms out to shield their face before impact.

When muscles are in motion or extended during a crash, the sheer energy of the collision can severely damage individual muscle fibers in the soft tissue. The blunt force trauma caused by a car accident victim slamming against other objects in the vehicle can also cause muscle pain and soreness.

Common Types of Muscle Injuries After a Crash

If you’re experiencing muscle aches after a car crash, medical treatment will be necessary to diagnose your injury accurately and determine which muscles or other soft tissues have been damaged. Take a look at what could have potentially caused your muscle pain after a car accident.

  1. Muscle and Tendon Strains: Tendons are a type of soft tissue that attaches muscle to bone. Both tendons and muscles can stretch or tear during a car accident, causing a strain.
  2. Ligament Sprains: Ligaments are a type of connective tissue that attaches one bone to another. A ligament sprain occurs when the tissue becomes stretched or torn.
  3. Whiplash: A whiplash injury occurs when the soft tissues that connect the head and neck are overstretched or ripped during an accident due to the rapid back and forth motion.
  4. Facet Joint Injuries: Facet joints connect the bones of the spine. A facet joint injury happens when spinal bones are shifted out of place, dislocating the joint.
  5. Herniated Discs: There is a spinal disc between each of the spine’s small bones (vertebrae). A herniated disc occurs when a spinal disc is torn or punctured due to trauma.
  6. Pinched Nerves: The spinal column is home to 31 spinal nerves, which can become compressed or “pinched” due to inflammation or injury in the back and neck.
  7. Seat Belt and Airbag Injuries: Seat belts and airbags are lifesavers; however, they can compress and damage internal organs and muscles during a traumatic car crash.

All of the above injuries may present symptoms at the time of the crash but may also create delayed pain, and other symptoms in the following days. You should always seek medical care after a collision, especially if pain symptoms persist or worsen from these injuries.

Signs You Should Seek Medical Treatment

Close up of Physiotherapist working with patient in clinic

Legal and medical experts often advise car accident victims to seek medical treatment after a wreck, and this isn’t just jargon shared with all victims. Regardless of how severe you think your injury is, you have no way of viewing soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and nerves without a doctor’s help.

Only a medical professional has the tools necessary to locate, diagnose, and treat a muscle injury. Without a professional, you can’t know if you have an actual muscle injury or something more life-threatening. The symptoms of car accident injuries can be delayed, so you may not know how severe your injury is until it’s caused more damage to the surrounding area.

After a car crash, err on the side of caution and visit a doctor. If you’re looking for specific signs that your injury might be severe, keep an eye out for:

  • Abdominal Pain: Persistent shooting pain or discomfort in the stomach may indicate an internal organ injury.
  • Severe Headaches: Painful headaches or migraines are common whiplash symptoms that may indicate serious damage to the neck and upper back.
  • Constant Muscle Spasms: A recurring muscle spasm accompanied by neck or back pain may be a sign of a traumatic back injury.
  • Numbness or Loss of Function: Tingling, numbness, and the inability to move your fingers or toes is a sign of a severe spinal injury that requires urgent medical care.

If you’re experiencing any of the above, seek medical attention immediately.

How Long Should You Be Sore After an Accident?

After a collision, most car accident victims wonder how long the pain and soreness will last. Though every situation is different, it’s common to be sore for at least six weeks. More severe injuries, such as spinal or internal organ injury, may take several months to heal. Visit your doctor if pain persists longer than one month.

What Type of Doctor Should You See for Muscle Pain?

You should visit either the emergency room or your primary care physician (PCP) if you’re experiencing muscle pain after a car accident. If you believe you’ve suffered a severe injury, head straight to the emergency room. Hospitals have a large variety of diagnostic testing machines that can reveal an injury hiding beneath the skin’s surface quicker than your PCP office can.

Once you’ve received a diagnosis for your muscle pain, your doctor will likely refer you to a specialist who is more knowledgeable in your specific injury. The various specialists you may be referred to for car accident injuries include a:

  • Physical therapist for sprains, strains, and whiplash.
  • Chiropractor for whiplash, facet joint injuries, and herniated discs.
  • Neurologist for pinched nerves and tingling in the extremities.

How is Muscle Pain Treated?

Muscle pain treatment always begins with a proper diagnosis. A physician will utilize medical imaging software, like MRIs or X-rays, and physical strength tests to locate and diagnose your injury. Then, a physician will consider factors like your age, gender, previous injuries, and current health to create a treatment plan that will help alleviate pain and stimulate healing.

Treatment requires plenty of rest and proper hydration to fuel your body as you begin the healing process. A medical provider may also recommend a stretching regimen to relieve tension in your muscles and alleviate muscle spasms. Physical therapy will often include stretching exercises and yoga positions that relax and soothe damaged tissue.

Treatment may also include massage therapy to reduce inflammation in the damaged area or chiropractic care to ensure structures like your neck and spine are healthy. These treatments may incur steep medical expenses over time, especially for severe injuries that require months of care. In this case, a personal injury lawyer can seek compensation for your medical bills.

Filing a Lawsuit for Car Accident Muscle Pain

Interior of courtroom.

If you’ve recently sustained a muscle injury in a car accident that was caused by someone else, you should not be responsible for all of the expenses alone.  Fortunately, a car accident attorney can help file an insurance claim or lawsuit to seek compensation for your accident injuries like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.

An attorney will work with you to calculate all of the damages in your personal injury claim. Damages are the expenses you’ve racked up since your accident and can include a wide range of fees and bills. Damages claimed in a typical car accident case include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Pain medication costs
  • Travel fees to doctor’s appointments
  • Home care or assistance
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages, including tips or vacation time
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Property damage

Your attorney can send a demand letter with the total amount of your damages to the auto insurance company of the at-fault driver. If the insurance company denies your demand or offers a substantially smaller amount, your attorney can file a complaint in court. A complaint initiates a formal lawsuit against the individual responsible for your accident.

David Bryant Law is Here to Help You

From rear-end collisions to sideswipe accidents, any car crash can result in life-changing injuries for accident victims. When the dust settles, no one should have to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit alone. If you or someone you know has suffers from muscle pain or other soft tissue injuries after a car accident, David Bryant Law is here to help.

We will help you understand the potential financial repercussions of your accident injuries and hold the driver responsible for your pain and suffering accountable. We will work around the clock to gather evidence that proves someone else was at fault for your injuries and negotiate with the insurance company or argue at trial for your right to compensation.

Do not suffer muscle pain alone or risk permanent injury due to a fear of mounting medical bills. Contact David Bryant Law today for a free consultation. We look forward to helping you take the first steps towards healing and financial compensation for your muscle pain after a car accident.**

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David G. Bryant is certified to practice in all state courts in Kentucky, and federal courts in the Eastern and Western districts of Kentucky, Southern District of New York, Southern District of West Virginia, Northern District of Ohio, Middle District of Tennessee, and Western District of Pennsylvania. He is licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.