Arm Pain After a Car Accident: How Chiropractic Can Bring Relief & Speed Healing

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 17,000 car accidents occur daily in the U.S. — and arm pain after a car accident is a common complaint.

Maybe you’ve been in a wreck and are experiencing pain in your:

  • Shoulder
  • Arm
  • Hand; or 
  • Wrist

You don’t have to suffer! Chiropractic can help.

Keep reading to learn what causes arm pain after a car accident and how visiting a multidisciplinary chiropractic center can help diagnose your problem and speed healing.

arm pain after car accident

Table of Contents

Can a Chiropractor Help With Arm Pain After a Car Accident?


Chiropractic can help diagnose exactly what’s causing your arm pain. They can then perform treatments, such as … 

  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • Massage therapy 
  • Acupuncture; and
  • Therapeutic rehabilitation exercises

… to help you feel better asap and get back to doing what you love.

The team at Cascade Spine and Injury specializes in auto injuries and has years of experience relieving arm pain after a car accident. 

Call today to schedule an initial appointment and find out for yourself the difference our multidisciplinary approach can make.

arm pain

What Causes Arm Pain After a Car Accident?

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries may be the result of several aspects of a car accident, including:

  • Holding on to the steering wheel
  • The force of the accident; or 
  • Being tossed around inside a vehicle

Here are a few of the more common injuries that can cause arm pain after a car accident.

Torn Rotator Cuff

Your rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that stabilize your shoulder joint. It allows you to lift and rotate your arms.

A rotator cuff tear is a rip in the muscles, and it’s also sometimes called a complete tear or a full-thickness tear.

There are two kinds of rotator cuff tears:

  1. Partial tear: One muscle in the rotator cuff is damaged or frayed.
  2. Complete tear: This type of tear goes all the way through the tendon or pulls the tendon off the bone.

Rotator cuff injuries can be tricky because you can’t always feel them. In some cases, you might find you have: 

  • Pain when you lie on your arm or move it in certain ways
  • Weakness in your shoulder
  • Trouble raising your arm
  • Difficulty lifting things like you normally do
  • A popping or clicking sound when you move your arm


Bursitis is a painful condition that causes inflammation of the bursae. Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the … 

  • Bones
  • Tendons; and 
  • Muscles

… around your joints. 

You may have bursitis if your arm or shoulder:

  • Feels or stiff
  • Hurts when you press on it or move it 
  • Looks red and swollen 


Ligaments are the tough bands of tissue that connect two bones together in your joints. A sprain occurs when these ligaments are overstretched or torn. 

The signs and symptoms of a sprain will vary, depending on the severity of your injury, and may include:

  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty moving the affected joint; or
  • Hearing or feeling a “pop” at the time of injury

Upper Extremity Injuries

Your upper extremities include your:

  • Shoulder
  • Elbow
  • Wrist; and 
  • Hand

Even a slight injury in these areas can upset the delicate balance needed for normal, pain-free function. 

In many cases, an injury occurs in the scapulothoracic region — where the scapula and thoracic spine meet. Often people relate this type of injury to spinal pain since it’s so close to the spine. But, technically, it’s not part of the spine.

Extremity injuries that may cause arm pain after a car accident are varied and include things such as:

  • Fractures of the wrist or hand
  • Rotator cuff injury 
  • Dislocated joints
  • Torn or cut tendons in the wrist or hand
  • Swollen tendons
  • Ligament tears
  • Tendon injury, often at the elbow or shoulder; or
  • Nerve Injuries
arm pain after car

Elbow Injuries

Here are a few examples of common elbow injuries that can often cause arm pain after a car accident:

  • Dislocations: Your elbow joint connects the bone of your upper arm (humerus) and your forearm bones (the radius and ulna). These three bones meet in your elbow joint.

    If there is serious trauma to your elbow, it may become dislocated. 

    This may be the result of fully extending your arms to brace yourself for the impact of the wreck, like catching yourself in a fall.

    If your elbow is dislocated, you won’t be able to bend your arm and will likely be experiencing swelling and severe pain.
  • Fractures: An elbow fracture can occur in any of the three bones that make up your elbow joint. Symptoms of a fractured elbow may include: 
    • Intense pain
    • Inflammation
    • Deep bruising; and 
    • Loss of mobility
  • Sprains: An elbow sprain involves an injury to the ligaments that support your elbow joint. 

    The force of impact from an accident will often cause your arm and elbow to twist, overstretching the ligaments. This will likely result in:
    • Elbow pain
    • Difficulty bending and straightening your arm
    • Swelling; and
    • Redness or bruising 
arm pain

Wrist, Hand, & Finger Injuries

Wrist, hand, and finger injuries are often the result of holding on to the steering wheel at the time of the accident. This can cause damage to the soft tissue and bones in your wrist, hand, and fingers, and may include:

  • Fractures: Fractures, more commonly referred to as broken bones, will likely be obvious, and include:
    • Extreme pain when you try to move your hand or fingers
    • An obviously crooked finger, or another deformity
    • Swelling
    • Bruising; or 
    • Tenderness 
  • Torn Ligaments: Arm pain after a car accident may be the result of torn ligaments. This can occur when the ligaments connecting the bones in your hands are stretched out of their normal range of motion. 

    Signs of a torn ligament in your wrist, hand, or fingers can include:
    • Pain 
    • Swelling; and 
    • Bruising
  • Joint Dislocations: Sometimes the joints may become dislocated during a wreck. This can happen when you use your hands to brace yourself or if your hands are otherwise harmed by the force of the accident.

    Symptoms of joint dislocations in your wrist, hands, and fingers can include:
    • Swelling
    • Redness
    • Numbness
    • Difficulty moving the body part; and 
    • Decreased range of motion
  • Contusions (Bruises): Arm pain after a car accident may be the result of contusions, or bleeding under the skin. Contusions may occur to your:
    • Skin
    • Muscles; or
    • Bones

      Signs of contusions include:
    • A black and blue appearance that changes colors as healing progresses
    • Stiffness
    • Swelling
    • Tenderness
    • Difficulty bending or using the affected area
    • Pain that lasts longer than a normal bruise
    • A small bump over the area 

Neck Injuries

Sometimes, arm pain after a car accident isn’t related to an injury in the arm. Instead, it’s the result of an injury in the neck that causes pain to go down the arm.

Symptoms of neck injuries that can cause arm pain might include:

  • Being unable to turn your neck from side to side
  • Pain that radiates into your shoulders, arms, and hands
  • Tingling, numbness, or weakness in your arms, hands, and fingers
  • Stiffness 
  • A feeling of heaviness in your neck or head
  • Inability to move your head at all
  • Shooting pain
  • Tenderness in your neck or back of your skull

 Neck injuries that may cause arm pain after a car wreck include:

  • Soft tissue damage: Car wrecks can tear, sprain, or strain the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in your neck. This typically causes: 
    • Pain
    • Tenderness; and 
    • Stiffness

… throughout your neck and shoulders. It may also cause muscle spasms or reduced movement of your neck.

  • Slipped or herniated discs: The impact of a collision can cause intervertebral discs in the cervical spine to slip out of place. If this happens, the discs may compress (or pinch) nerves in your spinal cord. 

    A pinched nerve can result in … 
    • Pain
    • Weakness
    • Tingling; and 
    • Numbness 

      … in your shoulders, neck, arms, hands, or fingers.
  • Facet joint injury: The facet joints in the cervical spine help stabilize your head and neck. 

    The impact of a car accident can cause inflammation and irritation in the facet joints. It can also damage the surrounding ligaments, affecting movement and range of motion.

6 Ways a Chiropractor Can Help With Arm Pain After a Car Accident

#1: Diagnosis

A chiropractor can help diagnose an injury that is causing arm pain after a car accident. 

Diagnosis may be done through:

  • A visual exam
  • Assessing your range of motion
  • Specialized testing; or
  • Imaging

#2: Improved Range of Motion

Arm injuries can result in a reduced range of motion in your arm, wrist, hand, and fingers.

Improving range of motion will be a key focus in chiropractic treatment and may include:

  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • An individualized exercise plan
  • Massage therapy; or
  • Acupuncture

#3: Adjustments

Chiropractors are specially trained to identify and correct any misalignment in your musculoskeletal system. By adjusting your body, they can help restore alignment and alleviate arm pain after a car accident.

Various adjustment techniques may include manual manipulation or activators, such as:

  • Diversified Technique
  • Gonstead Technique
  • Non-Force Techniques
  • Full-Spine Specific Technique
  • Sacro Occipital Technique
  • Craniosacral Therapy
  • Webster Technique
  • Cox Flexion Distraction Technique
  • Thompson Chiropractic Technique

#4: Exercises

A chiropractor may recommend specific rehabilitation exercises to help overcome arm pain after a car wreck. 

There’s a fine line between doing too little or doing too much to resolve an injury, so be sure to visit a professional before starting an exercise regime. The injury needs to be stressed to the point of stimulating the healing process, but not so much that it can’t heal properly.

#5: Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is the manipulation of the soft tissues of your body, including your:

  • Muscles
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Connective tissue; and
  • Skin 

Massage therapy can be a huge help in healing arm pain after a car accident. 

Massage therapists have the training it takes to know exactly where pain and inflammation are originating. They can then work through the pain to bring long-lasting relief.

#6: Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into the skin at specific points in your body. 

It’s rarely painful, and many patients report not feeling the needles at all. 

Acupuncture is often used to:

  • Reduce pain
  • Release tight muscles; and
  • Speed up your body’s natural healing process

Cascade Spine & Injury Center Uses a Multi-Modality Approach to Arm Pain After a Car Wreck

If you are dealing with bone, nerve, or muscle pain in the … 

  • Shoulder
  • Wrist
  • Finger; or
  • Arm

… after a car accident, the team at Cascade Spine and Injury is here to help. 

Our multidisciplinary clinic specializes in … 

  • Chiropractic care
  • Massage therapy 
  • Acupuncture; and
  • Therapeutic rehabilitation exercises

Our goal is to help you overcome your symptoms and get back to living your life. 

Whether you’ve just experienced a wreck or are struggling with arm pain weeks after a car accident, Cascade Spine & Injury has the knowledge it takes to help you begin healing.

Don’t wait another minute to find relief. Contact us today to book your first appointment. 

arm pain

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