Why You Should Always See a Doctor After a Car Accident, Even If You Don't Feel Pain Yet

Surviving a car accident can be devastating. Whether you’re involved in a fender bender or something much worse, your body’s reaction to the situation can interfere with the way you act and feel. While some injuries may be obvious, the panic and the resulting adrenaline rush can mask warning signs of injuries that you can’t see. 

Seeing a doctor after a car accident can help identify invisible auto injuries that can get worse without treatment. Soft tissue injuries, which cause connective tissue damage to muscles, ligaments, or tendons, can cause lifelong discomfort and limit long-term mobility. These injuries to your neck, back, and shoulders can include spinal cord damage, whiplash, herniated discs, sprains, and strains. 

The integrative medical team at The Vanguard Clinic in St. Louis, Missouri, provides comprehensive expert care to patients who experience auto accidents. Auto injury specialists Michael Glickert, DC, and Joe Novof, DO, have the expertise necessary to conduct comprehensive post-accident evaluations and identify your need for treatment. Using a combination of traditional medical practice with innovative therapies, The Vanguard Clinic team works to treat your pain and prevent long-term debilitating conditions. 

Find out about the types of injuries that can occur after an accident and why seeing a doctor after an incident is so important to your long-term well-being. With a proper diagnosis, The Vanguard Clinic team can help you rehabilitate and strengthen injured muscles for normal movement and future injury prevention.


Whiplash is a common soft tissue injury that results from car accidents. Also called neck strain or neck sprain, whiplash occurs as the result of your head and neck experiencing a sudden back-and-forth jerking motion, similar to the cracking of a whip. It causes a forceful stretching of the muscles and ligaments in your neck and upper back. 

Experiencing whiplash can damage your vertebrae, ligaments, muscles, and nerves in your back. The condition may not cause pain immediately, but whiplash usually results in one or more of the following symptoms within the first few days, though sometimes longer, after your injury:

Back injuries

In an accident, back injuries occur when your car shifts positions under you, pushing the small discs along your spine out of alignment or twisting them. More serious accidents can fracture your backbones, resulting in serious spinal cord injuries. 

Symptoms of a broken back include severe pain at the site of the fracture. Typically, this injury causes increased pain when you move, though it can cause numbness if a broken bone is compressing one of your spinal cord’s other nerves.

You can also experience back sprains or strains as the result of a car accident. A back sprain stretches or tears a ligament, a fibrous band of tissue that connects two or more bones at a joint. A back strain overstretches or tears a muscle or a tendon. Tendons are tough bands of fibrous connective tissue that attach a muscle to a bone.

Back strains and sprains can radiate to your buttocks. They can also cause stiffness, muscle spasms, or the inability to maintain normal posture, walk normally, or bend forward or sideways.

Shoulder injuries

Shoulder injuries that result from car accidents typically affect your rotator cuff. Rotator cuff injuries occur when your shoulder is forced into an awkward position during a car accident. Your rotator cuff includes a group of muscles and tendons that support your shoulder joint and stabilize your upper arm bone in your shoulder socket. Rotator cuff injuries occur when the tendons tear or overstretch as the result of the impact of the accident.

Symptoms of rotator cuff damage vary depending on the severity of your injury. Signs can include a dull ache deep in your shoulder, pain during sleep when you lie on the injured shoulder, difficulty reaching behind your back, and arm weakness. 

If you’ve been in a car accident, don’t delay in getting a thorough medical evaluation to identify injuries that you may not recognize. Schedule an appointment online or call our office for a consultation. 

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