A car accident is never an ideal situation to be in, but it can be surprising to find out how sore even a minor fender bender can leave us feeling in the days following the accident. Therefore, it’s essential to take all back pain resulting from a car accident seriously and seek medical assistance to ensure that the damage is not severe.
Suppose you’ve been in a car accident. In that case, you may notice the following symptoms appear immediately, within a few hours, or the next day:
- pain that radiates down the legs
- difficulty standing or walking
- tingling or numbness in the legs, feet, arms, or hands
- muscle spasms
These symptoms, if they appear, are likely due to some type of spinal injury from the car accident, with some common spinal injuries listed below.
Common Spine Injuries
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries that those in a car accident withstand. Whiplash occurs when the head and neck suddenly jerk back and forth. This sudden and often aggressive movement can cause straining and tearing in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Whiplash is most often felt in the upper back around the neck, and it can cause lasting back pain that leads to long-term complications if not treated properly.
– Herniated Discs
The spine consists of three primary components: vertebrae, discs, and the spinal cord. The cartilage discs act as a cushion between the vertebrae, but when in a car accident, the large amount of force exerted on the body may cause one of the discs to slip out of place, crack, or rupture.
Herniated discs on their own are often painless, but they can cause significant problems if they compress a nearby nerve. For example, a herniated disc in the upper back can cause pain in the neck and shoulder and numbness, weakness, and tingling that may travel down the arm. Likewise, a herniated disc in the lower back can cause sciatica, or pain in the low back, with weakness, numbness, and tingling that travels down the leg.
– Soft Tissue Injuries
The back is composed of numerous muscles, ligaments, and tendons, which can sustain sprains, strains, or tears during a car accident. These injuries can cause significant pain, stiffness, tenderness, and muscle spasms.
– Vertebral Fractures
The force exerted on the back by a car accident may cause vertebrae in the spine to fracture. Compression fractures are the most common type and result from significant pressure on the spine, producing small cracks in the bone.
Severe fractures may damage the spinal cord and surrounding nerves, requiring immediate medical attention to prevent permanent damage.
– Spinal Cord Injury
The most severe injury that those in a car accident can sustain, a spinal cord injury results from extreme pressure on the spinal cord, causing bruising, lacerations, or damage. These injuries require immediate medical attention and may result in permanent nerve damage or even paralysis.
– Spinal Injury Recovery
For those recovering from spine injuries sustained in a car accident, physical therapy can help aid the healing process. Through physical therapy, you can work on regaining mobility in the spine, stretching the muscles, and strengthening them to ensure muscle weakness does not occur.