As a Plantation car accident attorney, I know firsthand that back injuries are the most frequently reported injury following a car accident. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, car accidents are one of the leading causes of spine injuries (i.e. back injuries) and are responsible for more than 40 percent of spinal injuries every year. Back injuries can range from mild sprains and bruises to fractured vertebrae, disk herniation, and even spinal cord damage.
You may not experience any pain immediately following car accident as neck and back pain and even muscle soreness can take several days to develop as inflammation sets in. Even a low-impact car accident can cause hidden injuries.
The spine is a complex, delicate structure, comprised of tendons, muscles, and ligaments that are intertwined around the vertebrae, discs, and spinal cord. The spine is not built to withstand the impact of a car accident – even a low impact car accident. Depending on the force of impact in a car accident, one or several parts of the back can be affected. The most common areas of injury are at the base of the neck (cervical 5-6 (C5-6)) and bottom of your spine (lumbar 4-5 (L4-5) and lumbar 5-sacral 1 (S1)). Because the spinal cord runs down the full length of the back, any injury to the back could result in significant pain and trauma.
Are There Different Types of Back Pain?
Yes. Back pain can be categorized into two types: acute (short-term), which lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, or chronic (long-term) back pain.
Acute back pain can be caused by a sudden jolt or trauma to the lower back caused by an automobile accident or other stress on spinal bones and tissue. Systems range anywhere from muscle aches, to shooting pain in the back, to the inability to stretch or stand straight. Acute back pain, if left untreated, may become more serious and painful over time.
As far as symptoms go in regards to chronic back pain, they are identical to acute back pain. The main difference in acute and chronic back pain is that with chronic back pain, the symptoms last over a longer duration (typically four or more months).
Common back injury symptoms are pain radiating up or down the legs, weakening of muscles, numbness in the extremities, and general intermittent back pain.
How Can a Doctor Determine The Cause of My Back Pain?
Back injuries cannot typically be diagnosed through an x-ray exam as most back injuries are soft-tissue in nature. An x-ray is a basic diagnostic tool used to identify bone fractures or injured vertebra, not damage to your spinal discs. That is why an x-ray may not give a full picture of the extent of injuries. Commonly, our clients leave the hospital with a “clean X-Ray” and thus a “clean bill of health”, only to later find out they suffered a significant injury such as a herniated disc or nerve damage. An MRI is the most common diagnostic tool to determine soft-tissue injuries, such as a disc herniation. Other techniques such as CT scans, flexion/extension X-Rays, discograms, and other tests may be helpful to analyze the severity of your injury. A medical provider such as a chiropractor, physiatrist, neurologist, or surgeon can refer you out for MRIs.
Back Pain After Car Accident – We Can Help!
If you are involved in a car accident where you injure your back, you should immediately be evaluated by a doctor to rule out any serious injury. It is also important to seek immediate medical attention if you experience any tingling, numbness, weakness, or loss of bladder or bowel control, as those are symptoms of a more serious injury that must be addressed immediately.
Call the Plantation personal injury attorneys at Lyons, Snyder & Collin for a free consultation. We will work to get you compensated for your past medical bills, future medical bills, and pain and suffering related to your injury.