How long does it take to recover from a car accident?

March 14, 2022

Getting involved in a car accident can be traumatic. It can affect you physically, mentally, and emotionally. In some severe cases, car accident injuries or traumatic brain injuries can result in permanent damage to your health and well-being. That's why it is important to visit your physician after a car accident to determine the possible problems and properly address them.

Fortunately, most people can recover from a car accident with proper medical treatment. Recovery can vary from a few days to several months, depending on several factors that we will discuss in today's blog post. So, how long does it take to recover from a car accident? Read on.


Factors That Can Affect Recovery Process And Recovery Time

There are several factors that can affect a person's recovery process and recovery time. That's also one of the reasons it is imperative to seek a medical professional to get an accurate diagnosis and start the right treatment for car accident injuries.


Recovery Depends On The Severity of The Accident

Recovery times will vary depending on the severity of the car accident injuries. It can take days, weeks, months, or even years to regain mobility and fully recover from injuries. The healing process for minor cuts or wounds may only take a few days. However, those that require stitches or surgeries may take several weeks.


Common Car Accident Injuries

In addition to cuts, wounds, and bruises, here are the most common car accident injuries:



Whiplash is one of the most common soft tissue injuries. Unlike other injuries, whiplash usually develops within days of an accident, which makes it more difficult to detect. Symptoms of whiplash include neck pain and stiffness, shoulder pain, low back pain, dizziness, pain in your arm or hand, numbness, fatigue, blurred vision, and irritability.

Estimated time to recover: Auto accident whiplash recovery can take weeks or even months, depending on the severity. This also requires comprehensive car accident injury treatment to ensure a safe and successful recovery process.


Herniated Disc

Sometimes, the impact of a car accident can cause a herniated disc. Symptoms of this car accident injury include numbing and severe body pain.

Estimated time to recover: For minor cases, a person can get better within 2 days and may completely heal in 5 to 6 weeks. Car accident treatment for this injury includes limiting your physical activity and ice/heat therapy. Physical therapy exercises are often part of the recovery process after the initial inflammation subsides.


Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries are also common among car accident patients. As with whiplash, a person with traumatic brain injury may not feel the symptoms right away. People with this kind of injury may experience sudden personality changes, forgetfulness, and temper problems.

Estimated time to recover: A person with a mild traumatic brain injury usually recovers most of their brain functions within 2 to 3 months. Proper medical assessment and care will be essential to a successful recovery.


Spinal Cord Injury

This is one of the injuries to watch out for when you experience a car accident. Spinal cord injuries can take a toll on your health and wellness. At first, it may start with tolerable back pain then may eventually develop into chronic pain. Today, auto accidents remain the leading cause of spinal cord injuries.

Estimated time to recover: The healing process for this injury may take longer than other car accident injuries. The fastest rate for someone to recover from this injury is about 6 months (with a comprehensive physical therapy program). But on average, it may take a year or two to show some improvements.

Other common injuries you may encounter include broken bones, fractures, knee injuries, shoulder injuries (torn meniscus), internal injuries, and soft tissue injuries.


Recovery Depends on The Onset of Your Symptoms

Another factor that can affect your recovery is the onset of your symptoms. Again, these symptoms may vary from one person to another and the impact of the car accident. Take note that delayed symptoms can present life-threatening risks. So, be sure to consult a medical professional.


Car Accidents Common Symptoms

  • Neck pain/discomfort/stiffness
  • Back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Memory loss
  • Lack of concentration or inability to focus
  • Inability to sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic pain

Seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.


Recovery Depends On Worsening Of Pre-existing Injuries

Pre-existing injuries may also affect your healing process and may prolong your recovery. Oftentimes, this may require physical therapy to restore bodily functions.

Recovery Depends on How Quickly You Seek Physical Therapy For Your Injuries

If you've been involved in a car accident, it is best to seek Physical Therapy and rehabilitation as soon as possible to help you heal your injuries faster and restore mobility.

This is one of the problems for those who have been in car accidents. They may think that they do not need physical therapy. As a result, their injuries get worse and may leave more permanent damage. When this happens, a physical therapist may require more sessions and more comprehensive programs.


Benefits of Early Physical Therapy to Reduce The Recovery Time

There are several benefits of early Physical Therapy for your car accident injuries. But the main advantage of getting early auto injury treatment or PT is to reduce the car accident recovery time. Other benefits of early Physical Therapy include:

  • Heal faster
  • Recover better
  • Prevent further injuries
  • Adjust your lifestyle accordingly
  • Reduce reliance on opioids pain relievers
  • Improve your mental health
  • Avoid surgeries


What Are The Steps to Take After a Car Accident?

After an accident, the first thing you need to do is to keep your composure. Take deep breaths and do not panic. Check yourself and others. Assess the situation and be sure you and others are in a safe place.

Seek medical attention and avoid making unnecessary movements if you are in pain as this could worsen the injury. Instead, wait for the rescue team or the medical attendant to do the right procedure.

If you are able to do so safely, be sure to take photos of the damage for proper documentation. This is important when dealing with insurance claims. Inform your insurance provider about the incident. You should also exchange insurance and contact details with other people involved in the accident.

Visit your primary care provider immediately even if you are not experiencing body pain or other symptoms. Your primary care physician may require some physical exams to thoroughly check your condition.


How To Feel Better After A Car Accident

Keep in mind that you are not only dealing with physical injuries. A car accident can also hurt you mentally. Many people also deal with post-traumatic stress after an accident, which includes shock, anger, anxiety, uneasiness, guilt, and fear.

We all have different coping mechanisms. And more often than not, it takes more time to heal emotionally and mentally than treating your injured body parts. Here are some recommended steps to feel better after an accident:

  • Communicate with your family and friends
  • Be physically active
  • Visit your family doctor or primary care physician
  • Find a new hobby
  • Consider therapies

If you get hurt in an accident, The Right Spinal Clinic offers treatment for car accident injuries. Schedule an appointment now! The Right Spinal Clinic specializes in primary care, physical therapy, and chiropractic care. We have a dynamic team of qualified physical therapists, chiropractors, and physicians that can help address your injuries so you can recover in no time!

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