Dealing With (And How To Avoid) Chronic Pain After a Car Accident

Your muscles continuously spasm. You experience frequent migraines. The slightest movement leaves you with intense shoulder pain.

You were in a car accident months ago, but can a car accident cause pain months later? 

Even if you felt no major pain immediately following a car accident, chronic pain after a car accident can find you, even if it’s months or years later.

Learn how chronic pain after a car accident might arise and what you can do to avoid it.

Table of Contents

chronic pain after car accident

How Can You End up With Chronic Pain After Car Accidents? 

If you’re experiencing pain after a car accident — soreness, tingling, joint pain, back pain, muscle spasms, etc. — that pain is defined as acute pain, which comes on right away after you’ve been in an accident. You may begin to feel pain within minutes, hours, or a few days after the accident.

If this pain goes undiagnosed and untreated, there’s great potential for it to turn into chronic pain — pain that bothers you for more than six months.

Car accidents can cause major injuries that result in debilitating pain, and if left untreated, can have long-lasting consequences. 

There are many common car injuries, but a few chronic pain injuries from car accidents include:

If you’re experiencing chronic pain after a car accident, don’t let the pain bother you any longer. Visit the professionals at Cascade Spine & Injury Center for a proper diagnosis and treatment. 

chronic pain after car accidents help

3 Ways Acute Pain Can Become Chronic Pain After Car Accidents 

#1: Tissue May Be Scarred or Did Not Heal Properly 

Scar tissue, or tissue that never properly heals, can cause scar tissue pain — a form of chronic pain that occurs when a small skin nerve is left damaged or becomes squeezed by scar tissue.

If you’re experiencing scar tissue pain, you might:

  • Have continuous pain over the scar tissue area
  • Experience spontaneous attacks of stabbing pain in the injured area

#2: Injuries Were Misdiagnosed 

You were in a car accident that caused whiplash on impact. The forceful and rapid back-and-forth movement left you with a strained ligament, but you don’t know that just yet.

You’re experiencing …

  • Neck stiffness
  • Difficulty with your range of motion
  • Tenderness in your shoulders and upper back; and
  • Tingling down your arms

… so you go to a medical professional. Based on your symptoms, they diagnose you with whiplash and tell you that with some rest, you’ll begin to feel better.

After six months, you realize you’re still experiencing some of the same symptoms and you think your whiplash never properly healed. You decide to visit a chiropractor for a second opinion.

After an initial assessment, you get x-rays, and your chiropractor identifies a ligament injury in your neck that wasn’t initially diagnosed. This is the reason for your lingering and chronic neck pain.

A report estimates that 7.4 million misdiagnosis errors are made every year — that’s about one in every 18 people who seek medical attention.

If you’re experiencing pain months after a car accident, seek the care of a professional and trusted chiropractor, like Cascade Spine & Injury Center. We’ll take the time to properly assess you, run any necessary tests, diagnose, and get you started on a treatment plan.

#3: Injuries and Proper Care Were Not Taken Seriously 

Often, patients don’t take their pain, diagnosis, or treatment seriously and either wait too long to see a medical professional or don’t follow through with their care as they should. 

We get it, life is busy and sometimes you put your care on the back burner to ensure everyone else is taken care of. But if you’ve been in a car accident and are experiencing pain of any kind, seek medical attention. Don’t wait until it’s too late and your acute pains become chronic. 

Jen is a single mom of three kids who cannot find the time for herself. She decides to prolong a visit to the doctor and decides that if the pain becomes unbearable down the road, she’ll seek medical attention.

John completed three months of his chiropractic treatment plan, but he still has a bit left to go. He’s feeling better, his pain is gone, and he hasn’t had any symptoms in weeks. He decides he’s healed and never returns to the chiropractor.

Alex never misses a chiropractic appointment. He attends religiously and is a star patient during his sessions. But, his chiropractor recommends a handful of exercises to do at home to heal completely and correctly. Alex thinks his in-person treatment is enough and doesn’t follow his doctor’s recommendations. 

chronic pain after a car accident

Chronic Pain After Car Accidents: FAQs

Can a Car Accident Cause Pain Months Later?

Yes, this is called chronic pain — pain that persists for six months or more after experiencing a car accident.

Although it’s not unusual for the soreness to linger for weeks following an accident, chronic pain hangs around much longer than that.

Common types of chronic pain that may onset months after a car accident include:

  • Neck pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Neurogenic pain
  • Scar tissue pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Back pain
  • Arthritis and joint pain

Can a Car Accident Cause Pain Years Later?

Chronic pain after a car accident, even years later, is common. There is no exact timeline for when chronic pain might onset or how long it may last.

One study of 220 patients showed that three years post-injury, close to 25% reported having chronic pain. 

If you’re experiencing chronic pain from a car accident years later, seek medical attention. Don’t live in debilitating pain forever. 

Can a Car Accident Cause Inflammation?


Inflammation is one of the main reasons why pain is delayed following a car accident. 

The shock and adrenaline your body experiences in an accident shut down your systems, like tissue repair, and trick your brain into thinking you’re not hurt. Once the shock and adrenaline wear off, your body responds to the physical damage by creating inflammation at the injury site.

Generally, inflammation lasts a few days but could last several weeks. This is why you sometimes don’t experience acute pain following a car accident right away. 

Should I See a Doctor Even if I Don’t Have Pain After a Car Accident? 

Even if you have no immediate pain following a car accident, visiting a doctor is always a good idea. 

We know that acute pain might not appear for a few days following a car accident due to shock and inflammation, but waiting for the pain to find you might cause you chronic pain down the road.

Your doctor can assess you and say you’re good to go. They’ll probably tell you to come back right away should you start experiencing any pain.

But maybe they’ll find something that you don’t even realize is there yet since many injuries take time to show up.

If you’ve been in a car accident, visit a doctor right away, even if you don’t have any immediate pain. The professionals at Cascade Spine & Injury Center are happy to assess you, provide a diagnosis, and create a treatment plan that will get you feeling like your old self before you know it.

chronic pain after car accidents help

Chiropractic Care for Chronic Pain After Car Accidents 

Although immediate treatment following a car accident is always best, it’s never too late to seek chiropractic care for chronic pain after a car accident. 

And not just at any chiropractic center, but a professional one that will take the time and resources to get you feeling better.

At Cascade Spine & Injury Center, we talk about any prior treatment and conduct an assessment to get a proper diagnosis of our own. With that information, we work to create a treatment plan to heal your chronic pain. 

Our multidisciplinary clinic is a team of …

… who work together to treat your chronic pain and make you feel better.

When Chronic Pain Doesn’t Respond to Chiropractic Care Alone 

We can’t guarantee that our chiropractic care will do the trick, but a good chiropractor — like the ones at Cascade Spine & Injury Center — will know when it’s time for additional intervention.

If you’re experiencing chronic pain after a car accident and come to us for care, we do our best to get you better. However, if your body isn’t responding to our treatment plan, we can look at advanced diagnostics to reassess our approach.

An x-ray might reveal a fracture that wasn’t properly healed. Or a CT scan might reveal nerve damage we were unable to originally pinpoint.

We even consider co-treating with …

  • Pain management
  • Trigger point injections; or 
  • Steroid injections in the joints

… or seeking the opinion of a physiatrist if we feel further treatment is necessary.

chronic pain after car accidents

How To Avoid Chronic Pain After a Car Accident 

Chronic pain might not be inevitable, but you can minimize your risk of experiencing chronic pain after a car accident.


Visit a medical professional who will diagnose you correctly and create a proper treatment plan for you to heal. 

At Cascade Spine & Injury, we do just that. We take our patients and their pain seriously.

Don’t wait for your pain to get worse. Book an appointment and visit us today.

If You’re Suffering With Chronic Pain After a Car Accident, Cascade Spine & Injury Center Can Help

Chronic pain after a car accident can make it difficult to accomplish simple, everyday tasks. 

You experience numbness in your arms as you hold them above your head to blow dry your hair.

You have a limited range of motion when you turn your neck, resulting in constant headaches.

Your muscles spasm and ache when you sit for too long.

Cascade Spine & Injury Center is a multidisciplinary clinic equipped with the tools, knowledge, and professionals you need to battle (or avoid) chronic pain after a car accident. 

Not only do we offer chiropractic care, but also:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy; and
  • Physical therapy

If you’re living with chronic pain, don’t battle it for another day. Contact us today for help.

chronic pain after car accidents help

The content in this blog should not be used in place of direct medical advice/treatment and is solely for informational purposes.

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