What’s Causing Neck and Lower Back Pain after a Car Accident?
After a car accident, it’s important to be able to show the amount of pain you are experiencing, have an idea of what is causing the pain, and how much time after the accident you expect to have this pain. After years of experience handling car accident claims, our experienced legal team of personal injury lawyers has come to understand which tests offer the results that are needed to help recover the full amount of compensation for your injuries.
When you have the chance to see your medical expert, the physician will need to conduct a thorough examination and document what happened leading up to your back injury. It is important to give as many details about the accident as you can remember, including the speed of the vehicle and the area on your car it collided with. This type of information can help the doctor understand where your pain is located and treat you properly.
Process of Diagnosing the Cause of Back or Neck Pain
During the Physical Examination
The doctor will conduct some routine medical tests in order to slim down where the neck or back pain is coming from. You will be asked to twist, bend and move to see which of these motions bring on bursts of pain. The doctors will also be on the lookout for loss of flexibility in your body.
Depending on the severity of pain or injury, your doctor may choose to order what’s known as an EMG(Electromyography). This test is able to look at the function of the nerves in the back and neck by placing tiny electrodes in the muscles of the lower extremity. Those electrodes are able to read the electrical signals in the muscles to determine if a nearby nerve is being pinched. This gives us an inside view of the current condition of the nerves.
While the MRI is able to provide a physical picture of the damage to your neck and spine, the EMG is able to measure the extent of your injury. Doctors use these two images combined to get the indefinite analysis of the spine. These images can then be taken and submitted as evidence towards your personal injury case.
Different Types of Back Injuries
The back is an intricate network of bones, muscles, nerves, and tissues that extend from the neck to the pelvis. Unfortunately, the lower back is the most common area of a back injury and back pain. Some of the most common types of back injuries include:
A herniated disc can occur anywhere in the spine. However, they are more common in the lower back. An injury to the spine can cause small tears or cracks in the hard outer layer of the disc. When this happens the soft gel inside the disc can leak out or bulge.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury (SCI) is an injury to the nerves themselves or to the bones and tissues surrounding them caused by trauma. The symptoms can vary depending on where the injury is and how severe.
The spine is made up of bones that are called vertebrae. When one of these vertebrae breaks and then collapses, this is known as a vertebral compression fracture. This type of back injury most commonly occurs in the middle portion of the spine. With compression fractures, these back injuries can cause severe chronic back pain.
Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains have similar symptoms. Throughout your back is a series of ligaments and muscles. A sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched or torn. A strain is when a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn. A strain or sprain of the lower back can include pain in areas such as the back, buttocks, and even the legs.
Chronic Back Pain After a Car Accident
Millions of American’s suffer from chronic back pain. This is defined as pain in the back that lasts longer than six months. It can range in severity from inconvenient, mild pain to excruciating, debilitating pain.
Chronic back pain often begins with an initial injury, such as being involved in a car accident. Although, being in an accident may make a preexisting problem even worse. Living everyday life with pain can cause other mental problems like stress, fatigue, and anxiety. Therefore, chronic back pain may require constant doctor visits to be able to learn how to live with and manage the pain.
What Are Some Common Symptoms of a Broken Back?
When someone suffers a broken back in an accident, they will likely experience severe back pain along with some other complications. After an accident whether it be from a car, walking or bicycle, it is always important to seek medical attention right away. Receiving treatment in time could mean the difference between complete recovery and a lifetime of disability. Some common symptoms of a broken back to watch out for include:
- Muscle Spasms
- Stooped Over Posture
- Inability to Move
- Difficulty Walking
Common Treatment Options For A Broken Back
When someone suffers a broken back, the first step should be to immobilize the back in order to prevent any further injury. If the victim cannot receive medical attention right away, the victim can use ice and over the counter medicine to help with the pain and inflammation until help arrives.
Some treatments for back injuries include:
- Bed Rest
- Pain Medication
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Back Brace
For severe back injuries, surgery may be the best possible recourse. The car accident victim may require physical therapy for an extended period of time in order to regain mobility and strengthen the back. Sometimes, these visits can go on for 6 months to a year.
What Are Some Common Types of Spinal Surgeries?
After experiencing a severe back injury from an accident, there are four known surgeries that doctors perform, such as:
What Is Spinal Fusion Surgery?
Spinal fusion surgery is a surgical procedure during which the pieces of vertebrae are welded together to restrict any movement that may be a source of pain. Spinal fusion is recommended for injured victims who have suffered:
- Herniated discs.
- Spinal stenosis.
During the procedure, surgeons use bone grafting to fuse together the pieces of vertebrae. The bone is taken from other parts of the patient’s body, such as a hip, from an artificial grafting material, or from a cadaver.
Other Common Back Surgeries:
- Laminectomy: a surgery that creates space by removing the lamina — the back part of a vertebra that covers your spinal canal. Also known as decompression surgery, laminectomy enlarges your spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
- Vertebroplasty: an outpatient procedure for stabilizing compression fractures in the spine. Bone cement is injected into back bones (vertebrae) that have cracked or broken, often because of osteoporosis. The cement hardens, stabilizing the fractures and supporting your spine.
- Diskectomy: a surgical procedure to remove the damaged portion of a herniated disk in your spine. A herniated disk can irritate or compress nearby nerves. Diskectomy is most effective for treating pain that radiates down your arms or legs.
These surgical procedures have become less invasive and more efficient with time, but they are major surgical procedures with long recovery time. During the recovery time, the victim may not be able to attend work, complete normal house tasks, or even walk. As a result, this could end in loss of income and personal time.
How Do I Recover Compensation For A Back Injury?
If your injury was a result of another driver’s negligence you may be entitled to compensation. However, to have a valid claim, you will have to establish the following:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care
- The at-fault driver breached this duty of care by engaging in negligent behavior such as running a stop signal, driving recklessly or driving when intoxicated
- The breach of the duty of care was the cause of the accident and the resulting injuries
- You suffered damages such as medical expenses and lost wages as a result.
Call A California Car Accident Lawyer Today!
If you are able to prove these four elements, you may be able to recover any costs related to the injuries, including your back pain resulting from the car accident. It is in your best interests to discuss your case with an experienced California car accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Call (909) 380-7200 anytime, nights and weekends, for a free case evaluation.