If you were involved in a car accident but didn't feel injured at the time, you may have still sustained an underlying injury to the back or spine. It's important to see a doctor as soon as possible after being involved in a collision. That's because back pain can linger or worsen even months after your crash.
Whiplash - a leading cause of crash-related back pain
Whiplash is a common injury sustained by crash victims and most often occurs in rear-end collisions. The soft tissue in the neck becomes damaged when a person's head abruptly moves backward and forward. The pain and discomfort isn't immediate, but can take several days to appear.
Symptoms of whiplash include a stiff neck, headaches, dizziness, and pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. Tingling and burning may also radiate throughout the arms.
Your doctor will assess your injury by conducting a CT scan, MRI, or physical examination. This is done to look for the source of pain and to evaluate your mobility.
Treatment for whiplash usually includes pain medication, rest, chiropractic treatment and, sometimes, physical therapy.
Damage to the spinal vertebrae and discs
The impact of a crash can cause damage to the spinal vertebrae (the small bones that make up the spine) and the discs (the gel-like cushions encased between the vertebrae).
A disc herniation occurs when the gel-like fluid inside the discs protrudes through the disc wall. While a disc rupture doesn't cause much pain, the protruding fluid puts pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord. This causes a great deal of back pain, as well as numbness, tingling and burning in the limbs.
A disc herniation in the lower back (lumbar spine) can cause sciatica. This is shooting pain that radiates from the low back and hips down to the feet. It occurs when pressure is placed on the sciatic nerve.
Like disc herniation, fractured vertebrae can also put pressure on spinal cord nerves and cause serious pain and weakness.
These types of injuries often require surgery to repair damaged discs or vertebrae, though that is not always the case. Some herniated discs can heal with chiropractic treatment and rest.
Back pain caused by soft tissue injuries
A pulled or torn muscle in the back can be very painful. When a crash occurs, the impact can cause trauma to the muscles in the back. In addition, muscle strains and tears can be caused by violent shaking that often occurs in side impact crashes and rollovers.
Strained or torn muscles may heal on their own with rest, but some torn muscles in the back may need surgery. Even after damaged muscles heal, they may spasm and knot up, causing prolonged back pain. Soft tissue injuries in the back are often treated with pain medication, applying ice, heat treatment and massage.
Contact a Maine car accident attorney if you were hurt in a crash
Being treated for a back or spine injury after a crash can result in costly medical expenses. You may also have to take time off from work while you recover. The Maine car accident attorneys at Jabar LaLiberty & Dubord, LLC understand how financially and emotionally devastating this may be for you. Let our team of experienced litigators investigate your crash and deal with the insurance companies for you.
Our law firm has more than four decades of experience fighting for the rights of crash victims and their families. We offer free legal consultations at our Waterville and Portland law offices. Contact us online today to find out how we can help you.