Back Injury

Back pain can be a sign of a serious injury. Permanent injuries like herniated discs or compressed nerves produce back pain, which may require expensive medical treatment for you to cope with the symptoms.

Back injuries are one of the most common causes of missed time from work. These injuries can disable you from standing, sitting, walking, or lifting. In some situations, they might even prevent you from performing daily regimens like showering, dressing, or using the toilet.

The Structure and Function of Your Back

The Structure and Function of Your Back

Your back supports your body, head, and upper limbs. When you stand up, your spine forms a column that holds up your body and transfers it to your hips and legs. At the same time, your vertebrae can articulate, allowing you to bend and turn your head and torso.

The spine includes 24 vertebrae. Seven cervical vertebrae form your neck, 12 thoracic vertebrae sit behind your chest, and seven lumbar vertebrae form your lower back. Joints between the vertebrae allow them to move with respect to each other. Ligaments attach the vertebrae to one another.

Your spine also includes discs to cushion the vertebrae. A disc sits between each pair of vertebrae. Each disc has a tough outer annulus and a bouncy inner nucleus. Together, these two layers provide a firm cushion with a slick surface so that your vertebrae do not crash into each other or grind when you walk or jump.

Your skeleton in your back also includes your ribs and shoulder blades. The ribs and shoulder blades provide an anchor point for the tendons that hold your back muscles in place. Using the leverage of these bones, your back muscles help you twist, bend, sit up, and lie down.

How Do Back Injuries Happen?

Back injuries can happen in almost any type of accident that traumatizes the back muscles and spine. Some examples of back trauma include the following:


Hyperextension injuries are a common form of back trauma. Hyperextension happens when your back gets stretched beyond its normal range. Soft tissues can get damaged by stretching forces.

A hyperextended back can happen in a car accident. When you collide with another vehicle, your body bends forward, backward, or to the side. As your vehicle stops, your body rebounds in the opposite direction.

This whipping motion can hyperextend your back. When this happens, your vertebrae separate slightly and then crash into each other as they compress. The whipping also stretches the ligaments, tendons, and muscles in your back, damaging or tearing them.

Blunt Trauma

Blunt trauma happens when something impacts your back but does not break the skin. For example, if you fall from scaffolding in an industrial accident, your back will strike the ground. The impact on the ground may injure your back even though it did not cause an open wound.

Penetrating Trauma

You suffer penetrating trauma when an object pierces your back. Depending on how deep the object penetrates, it could damage skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or internal organs.

Penetrating trauma can happen in any accident involving sharp objects. Broken glass or twisted metal could pierce your back in a traffic crash. You could slip and fall onto a piece of rebar in a workplace accident.

What Are Some Back Injury Examples?

You can experience different back injuries, depending on which tissues get damaged. Some back injury examples include:

Back Strain or Sprain

A back strain happens when your muscles or tendons get hyperextended. Strains cause:

  • Muscle pain and swelling
  • Back spasms
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness

Strains usually heal in four to six weeks with home treatment and rest. Doctors will often prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and recommend that you use ice packs to reduce swelling.

A sprained back occurs when you hyperextend ligaments in your back. Typically, back sprains involve a ligament holding your vertebrae together. 

Sprains can produce the following symptoms:

  • Spine pain
  • Inflammation
  • Limited range of motion

A sprain will often heal in four to six weeks with rest. But you may need more time to recover from a severe sprain.

Herniated or Bulging Disc

When your discs get compressed, they can deform. Deformation can happen in a few ways.

A herniation happens when the annulus ruptures and the nucleus protrudes. A bulging disc results when the annulus weakens but does not rupture. The disc flattens and protrudes around its circumference.

In both cases, the protrusion presses on nearby nerve roots, which carry nerve signals to or from a body region. 

Nerve root compression causes:

  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Loss of dexterity

A deformed disc will not heal on its own. Doctors can remove a damaged disc surgically. After removal, doctors can fuse the vertebrae together or replace the disc with an artificial disc.

Fractured Vertebra

When you break your back, you suffer a fractured vertebra. The vertebrae bear the weight of your body. When they fracture, they can slip out of place and sever your spinal cord. A severed spinal cord will paralyze you.

After you fracture a vertebra, you will need several weeks of rest while it heals. You may also need physical therapy to build up the strength in your back.

How Do You Obtain Compensation for a Back Injury? 

If you suffer a back injury in an accident caused by someone else, you may have a claim against the at-fault party. To get compensation, you must prove liability. Depending on how your accident happened, you may need to prove that the other party acted negligently.

Negligence happens when a person or business fails to exercise reasonable care. If they knew or should have known that someone could get injured by their actions, they probably behaved negligently.

Once you prove liability, you can usually recover economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages include costs resulting from your injuries, such as medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages include human losses, such as the physical pain and mental anguish you experienced.

A back injury can cause severe symptoms that disable you from working, engaging in necessary activities at home, and meeting your personal needs. 

Contact us at the Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss your injuries and the compensation you can seek for your losses at (214) 855-1420.