Auto Injury More Than Just Neck Pain!

Auto accidents cause more than just neck pain! Having been in practice since 1984, I have seen my share of auto accident-related injuries. While the most common complaint was neck pain, most of my patients had more than just neck pain! However, what is sad, most research regarding auto injuries focus mostly on the neck!

Thankfully, in the study: Whiplash Injury is More Than Neck Pain: A Population-Based Study of Pain Localization After Traffic Injury, researchers looked at the reported injuries to the whole body. Using a picture of the body as a pain diagram, the researchers asked 6,481auto injury patients to mark where they felt their pain was the result of the collision.

Their results showed the following areas of pain:

Symptom% of Patients Reporting
Posterior neck pain86.2
Posterior shoulder pain75.3
Head pain72.0
Mid-back pain65.5
Lumbar pain60.4
Buttock pain42.2
Anterior neck pain38.0
Anterior shoulder pain35.9
Arm pain35.1
Leg pain27.5
Chest pain18.9
Abdominal pain15.9
Groin pain1.8

In another study, Non-whiplash soft tissue injuries  following low-velocity impact collisions: A retrospective analysis reviewing 609 patients,  they noted the following:

Injured Areas% of Patients Reporting
Reporting injury to an additional area other than the neck90.3
Shoulder injury48
Hand/wrist injury which were almost exclusively to the drivers15
Chest injury12
Knee injury12.3

As you can see, auto injuries cause more than just neck pain!

However, this information only gives part of the picture! In reality, very few patient’s injuries were isolated to only one body part. In the first study, many patients reported widespread pain syndromes:

Symptom% of Patients Reporting
Posterior neck and shoulder pain72.7
Posterior neck, shoulder, and head pain57.7
Posterior neck, shoulder, mid-back, and head pain46.3
Posterior neck, shoulder, mid-back, low back, and head pain33.3
Any posterior trunk pain95.1
Entire posterior trunk pain26.5

The authors pointed out that seeing pain after a traffic injury primarily as neck pain is misdirected. As noted, the majority of people with injuries report pain over multiple body areas and that pain solely in a single body area was extremely rare. Thus once again pointing our that auto injuries are more than neck pain.

The authors conclude that their study has important consequences:

“Our study better informs randomized controlled trials on whiplash injury that focus on the treatment and improvement of neck pain alone and suggests that these might be missing an important and potentially relevant part of the clinical presentation after traffic injury.

Additionally, the use of pain drawings in clinical settings would provide clinicians with a more complete profile of all symptomatic areas and allow potentially important patterns of pain to be considered and treated if necessary.”

Dr. Schmaltz has years of helping injured people. Call (314) 731-4383 today to schedule an evaluation.

  1. 1. Hincapie CA, Cassidy JD, Cote P, et al. Whiplash Injury is More Than Neck Pain: A Population-Based Study of Pain Localization After Traffic Injury. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2010;52(4):434-440.
  2. 2. Morris H, Ensor D, Uzoigwe C, Shabani F, Kurup H. Non-whiplash soft tissue injuries following low-velocity impact collisions: A retrospective analysis. Med Leg J. 2020  Mar;88(1):31-36. doi: 10.1177/0025817219875327. Epub 2019 Dec 20. PMID: 31859584