How Long Should You Be Sore After a Car Accident?

How Long Should You Be Sore After a Car AccidentYou likely expect to feel sore or uncomfortable after a car accident- after all, your body just experienced unnatural force and potential trauma. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, whether that be the general stress of an accident or a serious injury. A car accident chiropractor will be able to help you determine whether your soreness is related to something severe. But you likely also want to know how long you will experience a sore body after your car accident.

When Will I Feel Sore?

You may expect that your body will begin to experience soreness or pain as soon as you are in a crash. While this is sometimes true, car accident injuries are actually very often delayed, with symptoms not appearing for hours, days, or even weeks. The accident can cause a release of the hormone adrenaline, which is responsible for your fight or flight response and kicks your body into survival mode. You may also go into shock. Both of these are your body’s natural method of protection, allowing you to carry on despite potentially serious injuries. As these wear off, you will begin to notice symptoms of your injuries. It’s not uncommon for someone to have broken bones or severe lacerations and have no clue until they see the visual signs.

Just because you do not feel sore after your accident doesn’t mean you won’t later or that nothing has happened to your body. It’s always wise to see a doctor and rule out any serious injuries.

Common Causes of Soreness After an Accident

The cause and severity of your soreness will depend on a range of factors, including the speed and angle of the crash, the vehicles involved, your position, whether you were wearing a seatbelt, if airbags were deployed, and any pre-existing injuries you have. What is extremely painful for one person may be mild for another. However, there are common injuries that lead to complaints of soreness. When you visit a car accident chiropractor complaining of pain, they will likely start with these diagnoses.

Sprains and Strains

When your muscles are overexerted, torn, or inflamed, it can be considered a sprain or a strain. Which one it is will depend on exactly what tissue was torn. You’ve likely experienced this type of pain before, whether it was a sprained ankle or soreness after lifting heavy items. These injuries can generally heal on their own, but medical intervention can ensure they heal properly with less risk for reinjury.


Common especially in rear-end collisions, whiplash occurs when your head and neck snap forward, then backward very quickly upon impact. The main symptoms of whiplash are a stiff neck and soreness in the neck and shoulders. This same motion can also cause related issues like a bulging or herniated disc.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

One way the brain can be injured during a crash is when your head collides with a hard surface, like a dashboard or the steering wheel. This can leave your head with a dull, throbbing pain or even a sharp pain. While this is often a mild condition called a concussion, any potential brain injury should be treated seriously and seen immediately.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Car accidents are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States. The pain of a spinal cord injury is usually different than a normal sore back, with extreme pain and severe pressure. Untreated, these injuries can lead to nerve damage or even paralysis and should be treated urgently.

When Soreness Becomes Chronic Pain

Depending on your injury, it’s not uncommon for soreness to last weeks or even months as you heal from the injury. However, the pain should usually not worsen as time goes on. Any sudden increase in pain is a sign of a new problem and should be brought to the attention of your car accident chiropractor.

If pain persists after normal courses of treatment or after an injury appears to be “healed,” this can become chronic pain that lasts years. Chronic pain can have severe impacts on your quality of life, ability to earn a living, and medical expenses and may be taken into account as part of future insurance claims.

The good news is that even chronic pain can be managed and often entirely relieved with consistent and expert medical care.