A vehicle accident can result in many types of back injuries. A whiplash injury can cause strains, sprains, fractures and other serious spinal disorders. However, previous problems such as spinal stenosis may be aggravated by a car accident.
Further, because identical symptoms may occur for any of the following injuries, diagnosing the source of pain without testing can be difficult. The following are among the most common injuries caused by car accidents.
The bones in your spine, or vertebrae, can fracture just like any other bone in your body even if they are strong. Your doctor may refer to a back fracture using the following terms:
- Burst fractures are caused by crushing the parts of vertebrae. As a result, bone fragments may scatter.
- A flexion fracture occurs when the part or multiple parts of the vertebrae break, usually in the middle or posterior columns.
- Compression fractures are minor cracks or breaks in the bones caused by too much pressure.
- A fracture-dislocation is a combination of a fracture and dislocation or displacement of one or more of your vertebrae.
An injury to your back causes your soft tissues to stretch too much and become damaged. Basically, a strain affects the tendons that link bones and muscles in the back. On the other hand, back sprains injure the ligaments that connect bones to adjacent bones and joints to each other.
Strains and sprains can both cause excruciating pain that is hard to treat. A physician with expertise in this area needs to diagnose this sort of injury because imaging cannot detect it.
Normally, your spine has gaps between the bones, so spinal stenosis narrows these gaps, causing pressure on nerves. Spinal stenosis is most common in the lower back and neck.
The most common cause of spinal stenosis is aging, although it may also result from trauma, such as a vehicle accident. When this happens, there may be a ruptured disc or bone fragment invading the spinal canal, putting pressure on the nerves or cord and resulting in pain.
If a disk between two vertebrae begins to slip, it can cause excruciating pain and irritate nearby nerves. This condition is medically known as slipped, ruptured, or herniated disks. The protruding disc may lead to numbness, a burning sensation, or weakness throughout your body when it scrapes against nerves.
An automobile collision is one of the main causes of spondylolisthesis. As a result of a stress fracture, a vertebrae is displaced from its normal position, resulting in spondylolisthesis.
People with this condition can suffer acute stabs of agony due to compressed or pinched nerves down their spines. The symptoms of spondylolisthesis in car accident victims include chronic discomfort, difficulty walking, sudden weakness, and numbness.
Nerve roots emerge from facet joints and travel to other parts of the body, including the arms and legs. You can bend or twist in numerous directions without hurting your spine with facet joints. When there is damage to the facet joints, it can affect your nerves, causing pain.
If your facet joints are damaged by thinning cartilage or untreated spinal damage, you may experience problems. You might experience muscle tightening or spasms, soreness on the exterior of your back, or radiating pain.
Damage to your spinal discs can result in discogenic pain, typically accompanied by acute aches and sensations of sharp pain. A sciatic nerve problem can cause numbness, pain, and tingling in the buttocks, foot, and groin.
Discogenic pain can cause a variety of types of discomfort. Lying down can be beneficial for some, but can also cause discomfort for others. Long periods of standing or sitting can exacerbate the discomfort.
Traumatic back injuries may lead to degenerative spinal disorder months or years after the accident. You may also become aware of a health problem that you were unaware of prior to the accident.
Previous injury mixed with degeneration might lead to the following symptoms as you become older such as bulging discs, degenerative scoliosis, and spinal osteoarthritis.
The spinal cord is a vital part of the human body. A slight cut or nick to the spinal cord can lead to paralysis or impairment for the rest of one’s life. Many people who suffer spinal cord injuries in traffic accidents become disabled and require long-term medical care.
You should schedule an appointment with your doctor right after an accident, even if you do not go to the ER. Depending on the severity of your injuries, your doctor may refer you to an orthopedic specialist for a closer examination, analysis of movement restrictions, and possible treatment recommendations. At Spine Consultants, we specialize in work and accident-related injuries and conditions. Dr. Butler has over 20 years’ experience diagnosing and treating spinal conditions. If you would like Dr. Butler to review your case, ask your doctor to refer you to Spine Consultants.