Car accidents have the potential to cause significant neck and back injuries. The bones and muscles of the neck and body are critical to bodily function and movement. The jerking motion and other forces that are generated during a car crash can cause a number of different injuries to the spine, which could in turn end up affecting the neck and back. While a number of these injuries may not necessarily be life-threatening, they can cause significant, even chronic, pain and discomfort. These types of injuries may also need extensive treatment and rehabilitation in order to heal.
Car Accident Back Pain
Discogenic pain refers to pain that occurs in the discs of the spine. These are round pieces of cartilage that act like cushions between each bone of the spinal column. They essentially allow for movement and stability. So, when a spinal disc is damaged, it could lead to intense and debilitating pain. Some of the most common injuries that cause pain in this area are:
Lumbar sprains: Trauma from a car crash can cause the ligaments, muscles and tendons in the back to over-stretch, leading to sprains or strains. These types of injuries typically cannot be diagnosed with an x-ray. A doctor may diagnose it simply by talking to the patient and understanding the symptoms.
Spinal stenosis: This refers to a narrowing of the bone channel that houses the spinal nerves and spinal cord. In these types of injuries, a ruptured disc or bone fragment intrudes into the spinal canal space causing pain.
Disc herniation: This occurs when the soft inner filling of the disc protrudes through the tougher outer encasing. When the protruding material comes into contact with surrounding nerves, it could result in significant pain.
Facet Injuries After a Car Crash
Injuries to the facet joints of the spine can be serious because these joints help support the weight of the body and facilitate movement between each vertebra. Together with the spinal discs, facet joints work to allow strong, controlled movement throughout the spine and entire body. Some of the symptoms of facet joint pain include muscle spasms, which may force the spine out of alignment and cause neck or back pain. Facet joint pain may also be caused by nerve irritation of the joint. Facet injuries can be diagnosed with standard X-rays or CT scans.
Facet joint pain can be treated with a hot or cold compress. Your doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen to ease the pain and reduce swelling. It is important to rest and listen to your body. You may also want to seek out an experienced chiropractor for treatment.
These are the most common types of injuries sustained a car accident. Whiplash occurs due to rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck like the cracking of a whip. These types of injuries commonly occur in rear-end car accidents. Most people with whiplash may develop long-lasting complications including chronic neck pain. Some of the symptoms of whiplash, which develop within days of the injury, include neck pain and stiffness, worsening of pain with neck movement, loss of range of motion in the neck, headaches (starting at the base of the skull), tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back or arms, fatigue and dizziness.
What If My Pain Took Time To Surface?
Whiplash may be diagnosed with an X-ray, CT scan or MRI. The goals of whiplash treatment are to control pain, restore normal range of motion to your neck and get you back doing normal activities. Some people may recover with over-the-counter medication and at-home care. Others may need prescription medication, specialized pain treatment or physical therapy.
Diagnosing and Treating Back and Neck Pain After a Crash
It is important to have a skilled practitioner properly diagnose and treat your problem. MRIs or tomography are typically used to diagnose disc injuries or damage. There are a number of common treatments for discogenic pain after a car accident. Physical therapy can ease discogenic pain by moving and manipulating the back and neck. It can also help restore movement. Anti-inflammatory medications are used to treat such pain. Your doctor may recommend non-surgical treatments such as steroid injections as well. However, if none of these options provide relief, surgery may be an option. The most common surgical option to treat discogenic pain is spinal fusion.
Contacting an Experienced Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident and is suffering from neck or back pain, please contact an experienced Orange County car accident lawyer who can help you figure out how to pay for medical and rehabilitation expenses, and help you secure maximum compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.