When individuals are involved in car accidents, one of the first things that they may notice is back pain. This is usually because they sustained a back or spine injury, which are very common in any type of motor vehicle accident. Sometimes, back and spine injuries will heal quickly on their own with rest and relaxation.
However, it isn’t unusual to learn that you have a serious back injury that may be permanent or take a long time from which to recover. Here are five serious back and spine injuries that often arise after car accidents.
1. Slipped or herniated disks
In your spine, you have several bones with soft cushions sitting between them. These are called disks. In a car accident, the outer membrane of these disks can tear, and the jelly-like substance within them can extrude. This is a herniated disk, which is often referred to as a slipped or ruptured disk.
Herniated disks are typically located in a person’s lower back, and they can cause pain, weakness, tingling, or numbness in various parts of the body, such as your limbs. While some slipped or herniated disks heal on their own, it is common for individuals who suffer from this condition to have complications, including bladder or bowel problems, saddle anesthesia, and chronic pain.
2. Vertebrae fractures
There are 33 vertebrae, or interlocking bones, in your spinal column which provide protection to the spinal cord as well as support an individual’s arms and legs. The force of the impact from a car accident can crack one or more of these vertebrae, leading to a cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back), or lumbar (lower back) fracture – quite literally, a broken neck or broken back.
These fractures can be categorized into small cracks (compression fracture), tiny broken pieces (burst fracture), or vertebrae that pulled apart and separated from one another (chance fracture). Regardless of the type of vertebrae fracture you have, there is a high likelihood that you will have chronic pain and difficulties moving and getting around for several years to come. Many people with these types of injuries are unable to completely heal (especially if the broken vertebrae damage the spinal cord), meaning that they will suffer permanently for the rest of their lives.
Although surgery is commonly recommended, some victims of car accidents may be able to rest and ease back into their daily activities and tasks while wearing a back brace for several months. Also, in some cases a doctor may believe surgery is a greater risk. Your physician will look at your vertebrae fractures to determine how severe they are, how many you have, where they are located, and if they are out of place. This will help them determine what type of medical treatment you need to make a full recovery.
After a car accident, you may notice that you have pain in your lower back, hips, buttocks, or even your legs. While it may be difficult to pinpoint this pain as it may move and vary in pain and intensity each day, the name used to describe this condition is sciatica. Individuals are diagnosed with sciatica when their sciatica nerve is pinched or damaged. The sciatic nerve is located in the very lower portion of your back and sciatica occurs when a person has a herniated disk or when a bone is placing too much force or pressure on the sciatic nerve.
As a result, individuals with this condition often complain of excruciating pain, swelling, numbness, and tingling feelings. If the condition is serious, it may cause muscle weakness, chronic pain, and bowel and bladder issues. Some people can recover from sciatica with daily rest. However, serious cases often require surgery.
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries from car accidents. Although whiplash is generally a neck injury, it can also be a lower back injury, according to CalSpine MD. This usually happens when the neck or lower back experiences a sudden, unexpected jolt or movement. Most people think that whiplash can only occur in a rear-end accident, but the truth is that doctors frequently see whiplash among patients who have been in sideswipe, rear-end, head-on, and any other type of collision.
Individuals who are diagnosed with neck or back whiplash may experience issues within their ligaments, tendons, muscles, and more. Your doctor will likely require you to participate in physical therapy exercises and take prescription medications for your injury. However, if your whiplash is severe, it could reduce your ability to move your neck or back as well as cause chronic pain in various areas, such as your limbs.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which an individual’s vertebrae moves or slips completely out of its location. This typically occurs when the vertebra compresses the nerve, causing intense pain in a person’s lower back area as well as their legs. This condition can become very serious and lead to muscle stiffness, chronic pain, and some level of immobility.
As a result, many patients who are diagnosed with spondylolisthesis after a car wreck spend months, attending physical therapy appointments, wearing a back brace, taking prescription medications, and even taking steroid shots. If the individual experiences serious complications or becomes completely disabled from this condition, surgery may be their only recommended treatment option. One of the most common and very serious complications that may emerge from spondylolisthesis is called cauda equina syndrome, which can cause bladder dysfunction, loss of feeling in the legs, paralysis, and more.
Serious back and spine injuries from a car accident can negatively affect your life in ways that you may have never imagined before. In fact, it can take several months for you to realize how much your daily life and activities are being impacted by your condition. If you suffer a back or spine injury from a car accident, Delius & McKenzie can help you find out if you are entitled to compensation. Our Sevierville car accident attorneys are skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable when it comes to injuries resulting from car accidents, and we will legally assist you with recovering your losses. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today. Our team proudly serves clients in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge for your convenience.
Attorney Bryan E. Delius was born and raised in Sevier County, TN. He founded Delius & McKenzie more than 20 years ago, after receiving his JD from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He is admitted in Tennessee and in several federal court systems. Learn more about Bryan E. Delius.