Back Injury Accidents: Common but Treatable

Back injury accidents are very common medical conditions.  Car and auto accidents account for almost half of all spinal injuries.  Regardless of your age, ethnicity, health, or fitness, back injuries are a widespread occurrence and can impact your daily life without treatment.   “Back pain” or “back injury” is a vague term that can mean many things. Since the back is made up of muscle, bone, nerves, and more there are many ways for a spine injury to affect your functioning. 

Types of back injury accidents:

Bone accident injury problems: 

Although there are 33 vertebrae in the spine,  each small building block is prone to compression, fracture, arthritis, and dislocation. Reports estimate 8-15% of trauma patients obtain mid to lower back fractures.  The upper or cervical part of your back is easily damaged due to injuries or accidents.  Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are at increased risk for cervical dislocation and misalignment. Important blood vessels and nerves to the brain are at high risk of injury in this location.  Even low-impact accidents or minor trauma can cause compression fractures. This is more common in older patients who may use steroids or have osteoporosis (thinning bones).  These fractures usually occur in the lower back and result from increased vertebral stress and rotation. This can lead to back pain, poor posture, and decreased height.  Do you have back or leg pain that is worse when walking? Does it feel much better when you lean forward or sit down? This could be a sign of spinal stenosis which can cause pinching of your nerves. 

Back nerve accident injury problems: 

The spinal cord is a delicate nervous structure that runs down the middle of your vertebrae. It runs in the spinal canal and connects the brain to the body. Personal injury due to traumatic events like car accidents, falls, and sports can cause spinal cord injury.  Specifically, 31 pairs of individual nerves send signals from the spinal cord to the rest of your body. These nerves can be compressed by a herniated disc, where the small cushions in between your vertebrae bulge out.  This may present as numbness or tingling, dull pain, weakness, or “shooting” pains down your arm or leg. 

Back muscle and ligament accident injury problems: 

While backbones give structural support and the nerves transmit electrical signals, the muscles and ligaments help move the body. Ligaments are rope-like structures that connect vertebrae and ribs in the back. Back muscles play an important role in our daily activities. They keep our entire body strong and mobile. If muscles and ligaments become strained or damaged,  it can lead to improper functioning of the entire system. For example, a low back muscle sprain may cause painful spasms, decreased mobility, and pain that shifts to your buttocks. 

Back Injury Accident Treatment 

Home Treatment of back injury accidents

Over-the-counter medications help with minor back injury car accident symptoms. This includes Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen. Also, you can also try icing/heating, stretching, and strengthening exercises. We recommend that you always consult your doctor before starting any treatment plan on your own. Not only can back injury and accident occur from the car accident itself, but treatment from an unqualified person can too! 

Professional medical treatment of back injury accidents

When do you know home treatment is not enough? If pain is worsening, not improving, or changing in quality. Seek medical care right away even if it was a low-impact car accident back injury. Why worry about waiting? Missed or delayed back injury diagnoses have a 7-times more likely risk of nerve problems. The initial steps may include a visit to your doctor for a physical exam and a self-assessment. Your doctor can help coordinate further care. This may include imaging,  physical therapy, or referrals to specialists experienced in pain and accidents.

Back injury accident imaging

What type of imaging is best for my back injury accident? It depends! Spinal X-rays identify backbone fractures but some injuries such as ligaments and disc injuries require an MRI. A qualified medical professional will pick the proper imaging based on history and exam!

Specialist back injury treatment

Doctors will look at your history, diagnosis, and situation to develop a plan that fits your goals! This may include prescription drugs and physical rehabilitation.  Additionally, other treatments may include massage, acupuncture, electrical nerve stimulation, and spinal adjustments.  In severe cases or situations where previous treatments have failed or caused more injury, invasive methods like surgery may be needed.  Depending on your condition, your doctor may offer you the choice of local injections. Performed by an experienced doctor in the office, anti-inflammatory or pain medicine is placed directly at your painful spots.  This can offer safe, immediate results without the hassle of a hospital stay or post-operative recovery. 

Summary and Strategies for Back Injury Accidents

In conclusion, back injuries from low-impact car accidents and treatment are common but fortunately treatable. However, many treatments from qualified professionals have been proven to reduce pain and increase mobility and strength, all while improving life quality. The first step is recognizing that you may have a back injury. Remember, even a “small” accident, fall, or personal injury can produce severe back pain and injury. Take note of any new or changing symptoms, including back pain or weakness, decreased mobility, muscle spasms, numbness, and tingling. The next step is to receive a thorough history, physical exam, and imaging (possibly). The last step is picking a treatment plan that fits your personal goals, situation, and limitations. This can include medications, heating/cooling, physical exercises and manipulations, surgery, and injections.   Accidents or injuries are impossible to predict. Here are some tips to prevent back injury or car accidents. Medical conditions like osteoporosis can be helped by healthier lifestyles. This includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and limiting alcohol/smoking.  Proper lifting procedures and work posture should be practiced at all times. Minimize falls by using canes and walkers, non-skid surfaces, and proper shoe wear.  Lastly, always remember to wear car seatbelts and protective gear during active sports. Finally, taking even small steps like these can make a lasting difference in the long run! 

References for more Back Injury Accident Information