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  • Dr. Roy Jung

What Happens to My Body During a Car Accident?

Updated: Aug 10

Your body wasn't designed to deal with the forces that occur in a car accident. Even though modern cars have an array of safety features, the damage from an accident can range from small aches to life-changing injuries. The force that both your vehicle and body absorb while driving along the road is known as kinetic energy. Your vehicle has been carefully built to displace the (kinetic) energy that occurs during an accident. However, no matter what type of car you have, your body will still absorb some of the impact.



If you've been in an automobile accident, the most crucial first step is to be evaluated by a health care professional. At the scene of the crash, your adrenaline is pumping, and you may not feel any pain or discomfort because of a state of shock. However, many people wake up the next day, experiencing the full brunt of their injuries.


Unfortunately, many people do not seek evaluation or follow-up treatments after a motor vehicle accident, especially when the degree of damage to the car looks minimal.


However, "the accident need not be severe in order to generate cervical trauma. A low-speed impact with minimal or no damage to the impacted vehicle can and does cause significant musculoskeletal injury to the driver's or occupant's head and neck. Speeds of 5 to 7 miles per hour (5-7 mph) of the impacting vehicle have been shown to be detrimental and causative of injury. Similarly, the duration of a patient's disability after a motor vehicle accident is not related to the degree of trauma."

Rene Cailliet, MD. Whiplash Associated Diseases. AMA; 2006. 1p, 4p.


Whiplash injury to the neck

The forces during impact can cause injuries to your body. A few of the most common injuries that occur after a crash include:

• Whiplash: when your car is rear-ended, your neck gets thrown back from the impact and then rebounds by flexing forward. Whiplash commonly injures the tendons and ligaments in your neck and can cause severe pain, and it’s estimated to occur in over 25% of auto accidents.

• Head Impact: your head may collide with the headrest (during whiplash) or even the steering wheel or airbag. Concussions, headaches, and other symptoms may show up after an accident.

• Shoulder and Knee Injuries: Bracing for an accident can often cause a shoulder injury. It’s also not uncommon for your knees to hit either the door or dashboard during an accident.


Contact us today if you've experienced pain as a result of a crash, we would be happy to provide a full evaluation and help you take the first steps on the road to recovery.


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Dr. Roy Jung, DC, CCSP

13751 Lake City Way NE STE 310

Seattle, WA 98125

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