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Understanding Common Orthopedic Injuries Resulting from Car Accidents

March 1st, 2023 | 3 min. read

By Rob S Williams, MD


auto accident

Here at Coastal Orthopedics, we realize that car accidents can be traumatic experiences that can cause severe, visible, and invisible injuries. Often, the impact can result in orthopedic injuries, which are injuries to the musculoskeletal system that includes bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.



These injuries can cause significant pain, limit mobility and the ability to perform everyday tasks, and require a lengthy recovery process. Understanding the common orthopedic injuries resulting from car accidents can help you be aware of the potential risks and seek prompt medical attention.

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Whiplash is a common injury that results from a car accident, particularly rear-end collisions. It occurs when the neck is jerked back and forth suddenly, causing the head to move beyond its normal range of motion. Whiplash can result in neck pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. It may also cause headaches, fatigue, and dizziness.

The severity of whiplash can vary depending on the force of the impact, the angle of the collision, and other factors. While some people may recover from whiplash within a few weeks with proper rest and pain management, others may experience chronic pain and long-term complications.



Fractures, or broken bones, are another common orthopedic injury resulting from car accidents. Fractures can occur in any part of the body, including the arms, legs, hips, spine, and ribs. The severity of the fracture can vary from a hairline fracture to a complete break that requires surgical intervention.

Fractures can cause significant pain, swelling, and limited mobility. In severe cases, fractures can result in permanent disability or chronic pain. Immediate medical attention is essential to prevent further damage and ensure proper healing.



Dislocations occur when a bone is forced out of its normal position in a joint. Car accidents can cause dislocations in various parts of the body, including the shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee. Dislocations can cause significant pain, swelling, and limited mobility. In severe cases, dislocations may require surgery to correct.


Torn Ligaments

Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect bones to each other in joints. Car accidents can cause ligaments to tear, resulting in pain, swelling, and instability in the affected joint. Torn ligaments are most common in the knee and ankle, but they can occur in any joint. Recovery from torn ligaments can be lengthy and require physical therapy and rehabilitation.


Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are a severe orthopedic injury that can result from car accidents. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs from the brain to the lower back and controls various bodily functions. Spinal cord injuries can cause partial or complete paralysis, loss of sensation, and other complications.

The severity of a spinal cord injury depends on the location and extent of the damage. Immediate medical attention is crucial to prevent further damage and ensure the best possible outcome.


Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries include injuries to muscles, tendons, and ligaments that are not caused by a fracture or dislocation. Car accidents can cause soft tissue injuries, including sprains and strains. Sprains occur when a ligament is stretched or torn, while strains occur when a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn.

Soft tissue injuries can cause pain, swelling, and limited mobility. While some soft tissue injuries may heal with rest and physical therapy, others may require surgical intervention.



Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury that can occur when the head is hit, shaken, or jerked suddenly. Car accidents can cause concussons, which can result in headaches, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. In severe cases, concussions can cause unconsciousness, seizures, and other complications.



Recovery from a concussion can take several weeks or even months, and it is essential to seek prompt medical attention to ensure proper treatment and avoid long-term complications.



While car accidents can happen unexpectedly, taking preventive measures can help reduce the risk of orthopedic injuries. Always wear a seatbelt and ensure that all passengers in the car do the same. Properly install and use car seats for children. Avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and limit distractions while driving, such as using your phone or eating.



Car accidents can cause a range of orthopedic injuries, including whiplash, fractures, dislocations, torn ligaments, spinal cord injuries, soft tissue injuries, and concussions.

These injuries can cause significant pain, limit mobility, and require lengthy recovery periods. Understanding the common orthopedic injuries resulting from car accidents can help you be aware of the potential risks and seek prompt medical attention.

Taking preventive measures, such as wearing a seatbelt and avoiding distractions while driving, can help reduce the risk of orthopedic injuries and ensure your safety on the road.


Rob S Williams, MD

Dr. Williams has been practicing orthopedic surgery in Corpus Christi since 1998. After graduating from Texas Tech hereceived his medical degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio. At the prestigious Campbell Clinic located at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Williams completed not only an Orthopedic Surgery Residency, but an additional year of Fellowship Training in Spine Surgery. Dr. Williams is dedicated to creating an excellent patient experience in the office or in the surgery suite.