Back and spinal cord injuries are often caused by car accidents. However, some back injuries may not immediately be apparent in some cases. Here is a list of common injuries that are related to car accidents and how they are spotted.
Also referred to as a protruding, ruptured, or herniated disk, this condition can cause radiating pain through a pinched nerve to other areas of the body, or could cause pain in the back due to damage of the disk found between vertebrae. This condition occurs when a disk is damaged and causes cartilage to be pushed or bulged in a way that causes pain and nerve interference. Usually, a computerized tomography (CT) scan or X-ray is used to find a bulging disk.
Sciatica is a condition that is associated with a bulged disk. The condition occurs when a bulged disk presses up against a the large nerve in your spinal column. This results in pain radiating down the small of your back and into your leg, in severe cases sciatica can cause numbness and loss of control to your leg or other extremities. To put it into a more understandable scenario, imagine that your nerve is a garden hose; when a bulging disk presses against your nerve, the nerve impulses (or water flow in the case of the garden hose) is constricted causing pain, but if the nerve is pinched between the disks in your spine then the nerve impulses will be completely cut off (putting a kink in the hose) causing you to lose feeling in your leg. The process of diagnosing sciatica is the same for a bulging disk.
Spondylitis is a form of arthritis that occurs in the spine. After an accident, spondylitis can occur due to an infection in the spine that causes the vertebrae to fuse together. The symptoms of spondylitis are stiffness and pain starting in the lower back, and the being “hunched over” due to bone fusion. Spondylitis is usually found by a doctor recognizing the symptoms, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or with an X-ray.
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord Injuries are sustained when trauma results in damage to the nerves within the spine. This can result in loss of feeling in the extremities and can even lead to paraplegia or quadriplegia. Spinal cord injuries are among the easiest to spot, but can be confirmed with an electromyography (a process of studying nerve conductivity).
Compression fractures are small cracks in the bones of the spine. As time progresses, these cracks can cause vertebrae to deform or collapse thus causing the structure of the spine to be permanently altered. The symptoms of of compression fractures are back pain, difficulty breathing, becoming shorter, and changes in posture. An X-ray can be used to determine compression fracture, but many cases do not get diagnosed because people expect that it is a sign of aging and do not go to a doctor for screening.
All of these conditions may cause long term damage to your well being. Please consult your doctor if you suspect that your back pain may be caused by any of these conditions.
Since some back injuries don’t become immediately apparent after a motor vehicle accident, many people make the mistake of quickly settling with the insurance company only to find out later that they have signed away their right to file a claim for future medical expenses as well as pain and suffering. If you believe that your back injury resulted from a car accident, you should speak with a car accident lawyer before settling with the insurance company.