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Low Back Pain from Car/Motor Vehicle Accidents

Updated: Nov 16

Why are low back injuries still so common in car accidents? Aren't cars being made safer? Yes, in terms of preventing roll overs, being ejected from vehicle, going through windshield, and things of that nature. However, all the improvements in the world won't save you from Newton's 3 laws off physics:

  1. A body in motion, stays in motion (Inertia)

  2. Force equals Mass x Acceleration (F=MA)

  3. Action and reaction are equal and opposite

What that means to us as drivers and passengers is, while the improvements made on today's automobiles may result in less damage to the body's exterior, the force by which you are hit or the force by which you hit another car or object, remains the same. Therefore, if you are hit in the back (rear-ended), your upper body will still whip forward, putting excessive strain on your lower back. The reason for that is your low back is commonly more stationary by means of your feet/legs locking into place by bracing against the floorboard, or the seatbelt restraining it, or both. Other factors to consider, type of seat (bucket or sofa), position of seat (upright or leaned back), airbag deployment, etc. Similar conditions and variations can be applied to side impact or front impact auto accidents.


Regardless of what your adjuster tells you on the phone, yes, even low impact crashes can cause injuries to your low back. We have seen many a patient suffer slipped discs in the lumbar spine from impacts of 20 miles an hour and less. Using speed at impact should not be only equation to justify injury. The other factors listed above are equally as important.


If you have been in a car accident and are suffering from low back pains, muscle spasms, numbness in any part of your hip or legs. give us a call at 781-938-1223. Let our physical therapy staff evaluate you and create a treatment plan that will help alleviate your low back pain, stretch out the tight muscles and increase your trunk and leg strength. Taking OTC medication and rest are sometimes not enough. These traumatic injuries to your lumbar muscles and ligaments can worsen if not quickly and correctly addressed.


Modalities like moist heat, electrical stimulation, soft tissue massage, gentle stretching are part of our treatment plans that will help you recover from the acute phase of your low back injury. We will teach you a home exercise program and we will progress you daily, weekly, monthly, until you have achieved your long term goals. We will communicate with your PCP and/or orthopedic should we feel other interventions like MRI or CAT scans should be considered.


Our medical receptionist will gladly help you fill out any forms your auto insurance will send you, as well as coordinate benefits with your private health insurance carrier to make this process as stress free as possible for you. Again, call Physical Therapy of Woburn at 781-938-1223 and we will get you in for an evaluation as soon as possible!



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