Suffering from back pain after a car accident is a common occurrence. When your vehicle is struck by another car that weighs several thousand pounds and is traveling at 50 miles per hour, it sends a lot of energy into your vehicle. Despite the many safety devices and systems designed to protect you, your body is still subject to a lot of that energy and force. The human body is not designed to take that amount of force. Even with minor fender-benders, there is enough force sent into your body to cause damage, especially to your back.
What Are Common Accident-Related Back Injuries?
Fortunately, many car accidents do not cause people to get seriously injured. In many car crashes, drivers and passengers are banged up a little and are sore in various parts of their bodies for a few days. However, this soreness usually goes away. The soreness in various muscles throughout the body stems from being knocked around and jostled inside your vehicle when your vehicle is struck by another car. In some car crashes, people suffer much more serious injuries other than sore muscles.
Back pain and back injuries are very common in car accidents. Despite having vertebrae bones up and down your spine, the spinal column is quite fragile. Here are the common back injuries that are caused by car crashes that can cause significant back pain:
- Muscle sprains and strains: There are a lot of moving parts in the back and spinal column. The back allows people to have flexibility to move around, twist, and bend. It also gives them strength. When people get into a car accident, they can sprain and strain their back muscles. They can also sprain and strain the various ligaments and tendons that make up your back structure. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons can be stretched, bruised, and torn. These types of injuries can take weeks to heal and may require weeks of physical therapy treatment to get back to normal.
- Bulging discs: Your spinal column is protected by vertebrae, which are bones that have the spinal cord running through them. The bones give you protection. Because there are individual vertebra, they also provide flexibility. Between each stacked vertebra are jelly donut-like discs that provide cushioning between the bones. When there is trauma to the spine, sometimes the jelly-like substance inside the disc pushes out or bulges, which causes the bulging part to press on the spinal cord. When this happens, someone can experience symptoms, such as pain, numbness, and weakness either down the legs or arms. Bulging discs can be repaired with physical therapy and rest. Sometimes, surgery is needed to fix a bulging disc.
- Herniated discs: Similar to a bulging disc, a herniated disc happens when the body is subjected to trauma. Instead of the jelly-like substance merely bulging out, there is enough trauma where a piece of the disc is pushed out of the annulus, causing serious pain. Usually, surgery is necessary to fix a herniated disc.
- Facet joint injuries: Facet joints connect the spinal column and vertebrae together, allowing everything to be flexible. Nerve roots coming from the spinal cord run through the facet joints and head out to the rest of the body. Damaged facet joints can cause lack of flexibility, pain, and pinching of the nerves running through the joints.
- Vertebrae fractures: Vertebrae are made of bone, which can break. Fractured vertebrae can be just like any other type of fractured bone in the body. When there is a severe break of a vertebra, the broken bone can pierce the spinal cord, which can cause paralysis to some degree.
- Spondylolisthesis: This is when a vertebra becomes dislocated, causing a lot of pain and discomfort. This condition is often helped with chiropractic treatment or physical therapy manipulation, which attempts to move the vertebra back into its proper place.
- Whiplash: This type of injury is when the head and neck is whipped back and forth in a car crash, especially when it is a rear-end collision or a head-on collision. Whiplash can cause serious muscle, ligament, and tendon injuries and serious pain. It can also cause bulging and herniated discs. Severe whiplash can be long-lasting and require months of treatment to get back to normal.
- Paralysis: When there are serious back injuries involved, there is always the chance that the spinal cord can be damaged. When the spinal cord is damaged, either partially or wholly, it can cause paralysis. If the damage to the spinal cord was in the cervical spine, someone can be completely paralyzed. If the damage to the spinal cord was in the lower spine, the person can be paralyzed from the waist down.
Most of the above serious injuries may need surgery to repair. With some significant back injuries, the person could undergo several surgeries, and they will likely never be back to normal.
When Should You See a Doctor When You Feel Back Pain After a Car Crash?
You should see a doctor immediately if you have been involved in a car accident and you feel any amount of back pain. A common mistake that people make is that they think they were merely banged up a little and the pain will go away after a few days. In some cases, that is true, but you never know for sure. There are many back injuries caused by car crashes that get progressively worse because people have not seen a doctor.
If you go to the emergency department after a car accident, they can examine you, run X-rays and MRIs, and tell if you are seriously injured. Fractures can be seen on X-trays. MRIs can tell if you have a bulging or herniated disc. The best thing for you is to be evaluated immediately so that you can get a diagnosis and a treatment plan. The sooner this happens, the quicker you can heal.
Seeing a doctor immediately also supports your legal case against the at-fault driver. When your accident is caused by a negligent or careless driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. This compensation can include payment for lost wages, unpaid medical bills, and compensation for the pain and suffering you experience each day. In order to do this, you must have medical support and show the seriousness of the back injury. By treating with a doctor immediately, you demonstrate that the injury was severe enough that you had to go to the emergency department.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Can Provide Legal Guidance if You Have an Accident-Related Back Injury
If you have a serious back injury from a car accident that was caused by a negligent and careless driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your injury. If you have any questions, speak with one of our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We have decades of experience in successfully handling serious injury car accident cases. Call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. We have offices in Philadelphia, Abington, Media, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, and we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.