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How long does the pain last after a car accident?



After a car accident, pain is the most common symptom. This can lead to a lot of uncertainty for patients. As providers, the most common question we hear is “How long will this pain last?” We understand your concerns and want to get you back to your normal life.

What is the best way to get pain relief after a car accident?

There is no easy answer. It is possible for the pain to last from a few hours up to years depending on the cause. It could last from a few hours up to several years depending on how severe the issue is and the care received after an accident.

But, there’s hope! Early treatment can help you get quick relief, and it also helps to identify any other conditions that may need further evaluation. Patients who seek treatment early experience less pain, a shorter recovery time, and fewer long-term disabilities. To ensure your care and coordination of insurance, we recommend you see a doctor within 14 days of the accident. We can help you, and we offer appointments within 48 hours or less. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Common Causes of Pain Following a Car Accident

Understanding the root cause of your pain is essential to get the relief you require after a car accident. These are the most common causes of pain following a car accident.

Soft tissue injuries:

Whiplash is the most commonly used term to describe pain following a car accident. Common car accidents cause muscle spasms, strains, and sprains. These usually cause muscle tenderness and decreased flexibility or rotation of the spine. After a car accident, injuries to ligaments, tendons, fascia, connective tissue, and tendons are common. In severe cases, these structures may be stretched or torn and cause instability or pain in the spine.

A good prognosis is usually given for soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue injuries respond well to trigger points, chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, as well as non-addictive medication.

Injuries to the Spinal Disc:

The damage to the intervertebral disk is called a slipped disc, herniated, or bulging disc. If the disc is leaking, contacting, or hurting a nerve, this can cause shooting pain called radiculopathy and sciatica.

Disk injuries and pain can last for a long time before you feel relief. The pain can last from weeks to months. To speed up relief, an epidural steroid injection is often used. Patients who are unable to get relief from their pain can have surgery.


Extremity and spine fractures can cause severe pain. It takes bone pain a few weeks for it to get better and several months for it to go away completely. It is important to determine if a surgical procedure is necessary to promote healing, or if the patient is able to tolerate casting or bracing.

Spinal Joint Injuries

In a car accident, the spine joints are often injured. These joints allow movement, but they are vulnerable to injury if the back is forced into hyperextension (e.g. being rear-ended). These joints can be injured, resulting in pain in the neck, back, or buttocks.

If conventional treatments, such as chiropractic care and medication, do not provide pain relief, injections into the joint or joint ablations may be an option. These interventions are usually effective for pain relief within weeks to months.

Rib Fractures Costochondritis

After a car accident, rib fractures and rib inflammation can cause severe discomfort. Common symptoms include difficulty breathing and pain when lying down. These types of pain have a good prognosis. However, it is important to treat the pain immediately to avoid complications such as pneumonia. The pain usually improves in the first month, but it may take between 2 and 6 months to get rid of all its effects. These conditions are usually not treated with surgery and can be managed with medications.

Concussions and mild TBI

Concussions can occur after accidents. They can lead to headaches, sleep problems, reduced concentration, and other neurologic symptoms. There is no set time for concussion recovery. A period of cognitive rest is usually recommended. Patients gradually return to their normal activities. Patients are closely monitored as they recover to prevent any setbacks and worsening symptoms. Patients have a good prognosis, although recovery can take weeks or months.

This article was written by Car Accident Doctors at Florida Medical Pain Management. Florida Medical Pain Management is proud to offer comprehensive pain management services to a diverse group of patients. Patients at Florida Medical Pain Management can get help managing hip, knee, leg, and neck pain. The practice also offers comprehensive arthritis management, along with treatments for auto accidents, sports, and work injuries.