Back Injuries After a Car Accident
Approximately 17,900 new spinal cord injury cases occur every year, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center. Of these, over 6,500 are sustained in vehicular accidents. However, spinal cord injuries are only one of several types of back injuries you can suffer in an automobile crash.
From sprains and strains to herniated discs and spinal cord damage, there are a range of injuries to your back that you can experience in a car accident in Texas.
4 Common Types of Back Injuries Sustained in Vehicle Collisions
In a car accident, the forces involved in the collision are transferred through your car to your body, including your musculoskeletal system. The force of the other vehicle striking yours can propel your body in one direction, while your seat belt, airbag, or the car’s frame abruptly stops your body’s movement.
This violent back-and-forth motion — sometimes referred to as whiplash — is the cause of many back injuries. Back injuries can affect all regions of your spine, from the lumbar region in your lower back to the cervical and thoracic regions of your neck and upper back.
Four of the most common back injuries suffered in car accidents include:
1. Sprains and Strains
Both sprains and strains are examples of injuries that damage the soft tissues in your back. Specifically, a strain occurs when the muscle tissues and tendons in your back are stretched unnaturally or with excessive force. A sprain is similar, except that it affects ligaments that are found at joints in your back, such as your shoulder joint.
Sprains and strains typically heal within a few days to a week with minimal medical intervention. But these injuries can still be painful and limit your range of motion. You could find it difficult to sit or lie down comfortably, reach for objects over your head, or carry weighted objects on your back or in front of you.
2. Herniated Discs
Discs cushion the individual vertebrae of your spine and absorb shock and trauma inflicted on your spine. The forces involved in a car accident can knock these discs out of place, causing one or more herniated discs. When your discs are not in their proper place, noticeable pain that is often described as a burning or sharp pain can follow.
Treatment can consist of physical therapy and surgery to repair or replace the damaged disc. If herniated discs are not properly and promptly treated by an appropriate professional, other degenerative back conditions can set in over time. The pain associated with a herniated disc can negatively affect your quality of life and ability to do any work.
3. Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the channel within your vertebrae through which your spinal cord passes. Normally, this channel acts to protect your spinal cord from being severed or suffering trauma in an accident. However, when this channel narrows, it can pinch your spinal cord and cause you to experience pain, tingling, and other effects in various parts of your body.
Following a vehicle accident, you could develop spinal stenosis if you fail to seek medical care and leave back injuries undiagnosed and untreated. Your doctor may recommend imaging if you later complain of pain, and these images will reveal whether such pain is caused by spinal stenosis. From there, physical therapy or surgery may be necessary to manage the symptoms.
Like any other bone in your body, the vertebrae that make up your spine can suffer fractures in a car accident. These fractures may not cause a complete break in a vertebra. Even so, a partial fracture can lead to the development of other degenerative conditions in your spine or joints, including bone spurs.
As with many back injuries sustained in a car accident, the common signs of a fractured vertebra include pain and tingling in the area of the fracture. You might also experience weakness and paralysis that make it difficult to perform daily activities. Severe cases of vertebrae fractures can lead to a loss of control over bodily functions.
Addressing Auto Accident Back Injuries
One of the biggest indicators that you have sustained a back injury following an accident is pain. Back pain can feel sharp or burning, and it can radiate from the site of the injury and into your arms and legs.
Other indicators of a back injury include the following symptoms:
- A tingling or pins-and-needles sensation in your hands, feet, arms, and legs
- Temporary paralysis and loss of feeling in parts of your body
- A limited range of motion in your arms and legs
- Muscle spasms and muscle stiffness
- Trouble standing, walking, or sitting without experiencing pain
If you experience any of these symptoms following a car accident, it is best to visit your local emergency room or primary care physician’s office as soon as you can. Your medical team may want to take images using an X-ray or MRI machine and speak to you about your symptoms before making a diagnosis.
Depending on your condition and how long it has been since you sustained your back injury, your treatment plan could include:
- Rest and restrictions on your movement
- Pain management using over-the-counter or prescription medications
- Physical therapy and light exercises
The longer you go without addressing back pain and back injuries, the more invasive your course of treatment is likely to be. Extensive damage or injuries that have not been treated for a long period of time may not be able to be treated using therapy or surgery. In these cases, your medical provider may work with you to develop strategies designed to manage your symptoms.
Back Injuries Following Car Accidents in Texas
It’s not always easy to know whether you’ve suffered a back injury. After a car accident in Texas, it is vital to seek medical attention to properly evaluate the extent of your injuries. You will also want to consult an experienced Texas car accident attorney, especially if you believe your crash was caused by someone else.
An attorney may be able to help you recover valuable compensation to help you cover the costs associated with your back injury.