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  • Writer's pictureDr Josh Bonine DC

Injury Rates in Low Speed Accidents Predicted

Injury Rates in Low Speed Collisions Predicted

Is there a crystal ball when it comes to speed of the vehicles involved in a crash and the amount of spinal or personal injury to the persons involved? There are SO many factors in a crash (future posts) and so many structures in the neck (future posts) that can be injured as a result of trauma, the most common being the 1) intertervertebral disc, 2) spinal nerve root and 3) the facet joints (the joints in the back of the spinal column). The facet joints in particular are often overlooked since diagnosis is highly clinical in nature. Intervertebral disc injuries are visualized on MRI and nerve injuries are correlated with electrodiagnostic testing. The facet joint injuries are often seen in chronic pain patients with limited findings on MRI and/or diagnostic testing.

Over the last decade, the research has shown that in low speed collisions, the facet joints are included in disc and nerve injury fairly often. Although we see these clinical presentations often, to date there has been little research helping us to “predict” whether it is probable in a given situation that the facet joints will be involved, UNTIL NOW! In a study published in 2010, Stemper and Storvik sought to develop a model to predict these injuries. This does two important things. First, it firmly establishes that the facet joints are a source of pain and disability and second, it helps clinicians understand how and when to look for injuries to these very sensitive spinal joints. The authors state “…considerable evidence exists in clinical and experimental literature to implicate lower cervical facet joints in the injury mechanism resulting from low-speed automotive rear impacts…” (Stemper & Storvik, 2010, p. 306).

The authors also report, “The present study was successful in demonstrating the utility of lower neck loads for predicting soft-tissue injuries in low velocity rear impacts” (Stemper & Storvik, 2010, p. 306). This is very important research and the astute trauma doctor understands the different structures of the cervical spine and how and when they are injured. This is imperative to be able to properly identify the bodily injury and correlate it to persistent functional loss. Find a doctor who knows how to check for this, and a practice that has the technology and experience to rehabilitate the entire cascade of structures involved in a motor vehicle collision.


Spine & Injury Centers of San Antonio is a local network of 5 chiropractic offices. As a group, we are raising the standard of care for injured patients and their families.

If you have recently been in a car accident, or had a personal injury, sports injury, or exercise injury, and are experiencing back pain, neck pain, knee pain, whiplash, headaches, leg pain, etc, our San Antonio injury chiropractors can help!

Our goal is to get you back to living a pain-free life as quickly as possible.

Click here to find a San Antonio chiropractor near me.


Stemper, B. D., & Storvik, S. G. (2010). Incorporation of lower neck shear forces to predict facet joint injury risk in low-speed automotive rear impacts. Traffic Injury Prevention, 11(3), 300-308.


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