A high-impact car crash exerts a significant amount of force against the spine and back. The outcome is back pain, particularly cervical spine pain and acute low back pain. A victim of a car crash should seek immediate medical assistance for treatment and management of back pain and its accompanying symptoms. Acute back injuries can exacerbate and result in long-term pain if left untreated. The victim has a right to obtain damages for his or her back pain from the liable party or the liable party’s insurance carrier.
Common Causes of Back Pain Following a Car Crash
Back injuries top the list of the most common car crash injuries. Back pain symptoms arise due to the following injuries:
Whiplash occurs when the head and neck move back and forth quickly upon impact. This movement damages and tears tendons, nerves, ligaments, muscles, bones, and discs in the neck region. Whiplash leads to great pain in the lower back, upper back, and neck.
Spinal Disc Damage
A car crash can damage or dislocate one or several discs. Herniated discs, bulging discs, and annular tears are the most common spinal disc injuries. A herniated disk is a spine injury. It happens when a disc tear results in leaking of the inner, jelly-like nucleus into the spinal canal.
A bulging disc happens when a disc dislocates and extends into the spinal canal. An annular tear happens when a disc’s stiff, external ring of ligaments cracks. Herniated, torn, or bulging discs might lead to nerve pain if a disc segment squeezes against or scrapes adjacent spinal nerves.
Lumbar Spine Sprains and Strains
These common car crash injuries occur when the force of impact causes overstretching or tearing of ligaments, tendons, and muscles in the lower back. These injuries cause acute pain in the lower back, muscle spasms, and stiffness.
Facet Joints Injuries
A high-impact car accident can inflict injuries on the facet joints that join the vertebrae in the spine. The outcome will be stiffness, inflammation, and pain in the lower back.
The force of impact from a car crash may result in the fracture of vertebrae in the spine. Compression fractures are the most common car-crash-related spinal fractures. These fractures happen when a tremendous amount of pressure or stress on the spine leads to minor cracks in the bone. More serious fractures from high-impact crashes may cause damage to the spinal cord or nearby nerves.
Treating Crash-Related Back Pain
A car accident victim who is suffering from acute back pain should see a doctor for comprehensive examination and assessment. With the right care and treatment, many back injuries heal within a few weeks or months.
The victim should take time to rest and recuperate. He or she should, however, avoid staying on bed rest or immobilized for too long. Staying on bed rest for far too long can slacken the recovery process and intensify pain and muscle spasms. A possible treatment plan for back pain may include:
A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, such as naproxen and ibuprofen, to help ease pain, inflammation, and swelling following a crash. The doctor may prescribe a more powerful anti-inflammatory medication if the victim is experiencing occasional bouts of severe pain or stiffness.
A corticosteroid injection can help relieve pain and inflammation around swollen nerve roots and/or soft tissues. Although corticosteroid injections are temporary, they give the injured party’s body ample time to heal. They do this by relieving pain for several weeks or even months.
A doctor may recommend physical therapy to an accident victim who is experiencing back pain after a crash. This treatment restores strength, movement, and range of motion in the victim’s back and spine.
Heat and Ice
Applying ice packs on the back a few times a day, especially for the first couple of days after an accident, can ease pain and inflammation. Applying heat packs after a couple of days can help relax and loosen stiff muscles.
Surgery may be an option if all the above therapies fail to work. It may also be an option if the doctor determines surgery is necessary to enhance the quality of life of the accident victim. Surgery could be effective in resolving car-crash-related injuries and pain in the neck and lower back.
Pursuing Compensation for Back Pain Caused by a Car Crash
An accident victim can protect his or her financial future and rights to obtain compensation by having the best personal injury lawyer on his or her side. The lawyer can go through the facts and circumstances of the accident and gather strong evidence to negotiate a reasonable settlement with the insurance company on the victim’s behalf. The lawyer can also file an injury lawsuit against the at-fault party or the at-fault party’s insurance company.