car accident neck pain

6 Reasons Why PT is the Best Treatment For Neck Pain After Car Accidents

Millions of people are injured in car accidents each year. Even seemingly minor collisions can result in long-term pain and disability. Physical Therapy is one of the best ways to treat and heal from these injuries. Physical Therapy works by restoring the normal function of joints and muscles, allowing tissues to heal and return to their pre-injury, pain-free state. If you’ve been in a car accident, here’s how Physical Therapy can help you:

Physical Therapy reduces muscle spasms and inflammation.

During an auto collision muscles and soft tissues are stretched and can experience micro-trauma. This often causes increased muscle tone, spasms and inflammation. Physical therapists use a combination of treatments including hands on techniques, taping techniques and dry needling to help normalize muscle tone and decrease inflammation of the injured area.

Physical Therapy restores motion.

After a car accident people often find it difficult to move their neck because of pain or stiffness. Manual therapy (soft tissue and joint stretching) is a prime method to resolve movement restrictions and restore full range of motion in the joints of your neck and upper back.

Physical Therapy relieves localized pain.

There are countless studies that demonstrate manual therapy (joint mobilization or manipulation) are safe and effective methods to relieve neck pain. In fact, a 2013 study found that 94% of patients experienced decreased neck pain with neck and upper back mobilization and manipulation.

Physical Therapy can prevent chronic pain.

Research has found that people who have been in car accidents and receive physical therapy soon after the accident recover more quickly and experience fewer residual symptoms from the collision. So, if you are in a collision, don’t delay in making an appointment with a physical therapist.

Physical Therapists teach you about your condition and what YOU can do about it.

Physical Therapists are experts in teaching patients how to supplement in office treatments with stretches, exercises, self-mobilization and breathing techniques. This means we teach you how to have control over your pain and your recovery process.

Physical Therapy WORKS!

For many years, Physical Therapy has been considered an effective way to help people improve pain and range of motion after an auto collision. A 2015 study agreed that joint mobilization and manipulation (manual therapy) and exercise, combined with staying active and continuing to work, are the most important factors in recovering quickly from auto collision injuries.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, physical therapy is a safe, effective and low cost method of relieving pain and returning to your life.



  • Slaven E, et al. The relative effectiveness of a segment specific level and non-specific level spinal joint mobilization on pain and range of motion:results of a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy 2013;21(1):7-17.
  • Masaracchio M, et al. Short-term combined effects of thoracic spine thrust manipulation and cervical spine nonthrust manipulation in individuals with mechanical neck pain: a randomized clinical trial. The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 2013;43(3):118-27.
  • Plaza-Manzano, G, et al. Changes in biochemical markers of pain perception and stress response after spinal manipulation. Journal Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 2014;44(4):231-9.
  • Wong JJ, Côté P, Shearer HM, Carroll LJ, Yu H, Varatharajan S, Southerst D, van der Velde G, Jacobs C, Taylor-Vaisey A. Clinical practice guidelines for the management of conditions related to traffic collisions: a systematic review by the OPTIMa Collaboration. Disability & Rehabilitation 2015;37(6):471-89.


  1. Thank you for the article. I really never thought about physical therapy. I always just took some pain killers and that was that. I will go to a PT the next time I hurt my neck. Thank you again!

    1. Author

      Hi Louise, I’m glad you found this article! There are numerous physical therapists who specialize in treating neck pain out there so feel free to contact me if you need help locating one near you!

      Cheers, Amy

  2. My sister was recently in a minor car accident but her neck is suffering. She keeps complaining that she has whiplash so I wanted to see what treatment would be best before we try medications. You make a great point on how physical therapy restores motion by manual therapy and how it relieves the localized pain in 94% of patients. I will keep that in mind and talk to her to see what she wants.

    1. Author

      Thanks for reading Barbera! I hope that your sister finds the relief she needs without medication. I’m happy to help her find an excellent PT in her city. -Amy

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