A car accident that results in a back injury or spinal cord injury completely changes your life.
A back injury or spinal cord injury not only has physical challenges but mental and emotional ones as well. Some of the most minor car accidents can result in big injuries. Back injuries can take months or even years to heal. Back injuries often affect home life, employment and social lives.
When you understand the significance of your injuries, you can better prepare for the future in order to live a healthy and happy life. The prognosis for back injuries can feel overwhelming, but many of these injuries can be overcome with the help a physician or medical team. Below is a detailed look at the most common back injuries Tampa car accident lawyer, Michael Herron, represents in court.
Common Back Injuries After a Car Accident
- Thoracic Spine Injuries – Spine Health defines the thoracic spine as 12 vertebrae that make up the middle region of the skeletal spine. Injuries that impact this area range from minor strains to major spinal cord damage.
Injuries to the thoracic spine, from a car accident, are typically more complicated because the vertebrae attach to the rib cage. More specifically, these kinds of injuries can result in widespread issues throughout the midline of the body impacting the ribs, nerves, and soft tissues. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of thoracic spine injuries due to the amount of force that a person will feel in a crash.
Symptoms of these injuries will range from numbness to tingling sensations throughout the body. Some people may experience weakness in their extremities or even complications with bladder and bowel movements. The tell-tale sign of an injury like this, however, is the intense pain associated with a thoracic spine injury.
The treatment of these injuries will range from chiropractic or physical therapy treatments for minor injuries. More severe damage to the thoracic spine may involve surgical procedures depending on what part of the vertebrae is affected.
- Lumbar Back Injuries – The lumbar spine begins at the bottom of the thoracic spine and extends to the sacrum. Injuries in this region of the back may include fractures, strains, sprains or disk issues.
Low back pain can be a bear to deal with, but low back pain from a car accident can feel impossible to overcome due to its persistent nature. Vehicle accidents can produce a number of low back injuries that can severely impact a person’s life. These injuries can be minor in scope such as straining muscles, or, they can produce more significant injuries such as fractures.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the injuries involved and may range from physical therapy and lifestyle shifts. to more aggressive procedures like surgery.
- Herniated Disks – According to the Mayo Clinic, a herniated disk occurs when the soft inner tissue of the vertebrae pushes beyond the skeletal structure, placing pressure on the nerves.
Victims with this kind of injury (along with doctors who treat these patients) can attest to the amount of pain a person experiences with this type of trauma. Most of the pain comes from the amount of pressure on the surrounding nerves that can radiate to other parts of the body. In fact, a herniated disk in the lumbar spine may result in sciatica pain or shooting pain that affects your legs.
Treating herniated disks is not straightforward, for instance, such as the treatment of a muscle strain. Some treatments may include physical therapy and specific muscle strengthening activities. More serious cases may call for procedures like cortisone shots or nerve blocks. The most severe cases may land someone in a surgical room for a spinal fusion.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The Mayo Clinic states that spinal cord injuries can impact any part of the spine and result in damage to the actual spinal cord. The nerves associated with the structure may also be damaged and cause significant discomfort for a victim.
Spinal cord injuries may be one of the most devastating results of a car accident. This is not only because of the pain these types of injuries can produce, but also the lasting effects that they may have on the rest of the victim’s life mentality, emotionally and physically.
A spinal cord injury will vary in severity, and the lasting impact depends on the specific damage done. When someone experiences this type of injury, they may develop chronic disorders and pain, or even worse, total loss of mobility. A diagnosis is usually classified as either a complete or incomplete injury and may leave a person partially, or entirely, paralyzed.
Other outcomes of spinal cord injuries can include weakness, numbness, loss of bladder or bowel control, trouble with walking or balance, impaired breathing and nervous system issues. Treatment will depend uniquely on the injury and the condition of the person before the injury occurred.
Bone fractures, according to the Cleveland Clinic, happen when significant force is applied to a bone, resulting in a change to its structure.
Spine bone fractures are a common result of car accident injuries. The spine is an incredibly fragile structure despite how well it can protect your spinal cord. Some of these fractures may cause a victim significant pain, and often will be relieved after the bone has repaired itself. At times, pain can persist after the healing process which is why bone fractures have an unpredictable prognosis.
Mechanical Back Pain
The Cleveland Clinic says trauma in any portion of the spine can result in mechanical back pain. This can include the spinal joints, the vertebrae, disks or surrounding soft tissues.
Pain associated with mechanical back traumas usually impact the soft tissues the hardest, such as muscles and ligaments. Other symptoms may arise, for example, muscle spasms or acute sensitivity issues. This type of injury will usually heal on its own, but recovery can still take weeks or months.
Long-Term Impact of Back Injuries
- Spinal Stenosis – Is a condition where the spinal column narrows over time due to many factors, one of which is a traumatic injury.
A doctor is not likely going to diagnose you with spinal stenosis as a result of your car accident. However, a car accident injury can contribute to spinal stenosis if the damage is not properly cared for or rehabilitated. Treatment for spinal stenosis usually involves physical therapy and medications, with the most severe cases needing surgical intervention.
- Cognitive Complications – Cognitive dysfunctions occur when one part of the brain has trouble communicating with other parts of the brain. Some cognitive disorders include dementia, amnesia, and delirium.
Studies are now showing that people who suffer from major back injuries are experiencing cognitive complications later in life. Wellness practitioners encourage people with spine traumas to take their recovery seriously to help prevent cognitive complications in the future.
- Depression – The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as a negative medical illness that affects the way a person feels or acts. These feelings typically cause a person to feel a deep sense of sadness or emotional distress.
Research on how back pain links to depression is becoming more prominent in the medical field. The direct connections are not yet clear as to why depression develops, but researchers know that things like improper eating and sleeping are contributing factors. Back pain also contributes to how a person interacts socially with others or how they participate in activities. Often, the lack of either social interaction or loss of activities a person enjoys can cause mental or emotional distress.
Legal Matters of Back Injuries
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center found that motor vehicle accidents contribute to about 40% of spinal cord injuries a year. The research of physicians and chiropractors finds that roughly 10% of accident victims suffer a disability as a result of a car accident.
Back injuries from vehicle accidents are a serious legal matter depending on the details or facts of your case. Insurance companies spend billions of dollars on these kinds of injury cases every year. Negligence determines who is at fault in an accident and cases are typically heard in a courtroom.
It is essential to follow the instructions of your physicians when it comes to the treatment of your car accident back injury. Not only will this help you to secure a healthier future, but seeking proper medical treatment will be especially crucial if you plan to pursue a legal path.
If you or anyone you love has experienced back pain from a motor vehicle accident, we encourage you to speak with a Tampa car accident lawyer, so you understand your legal rights.
A negligent party may be responsible for your injuries, and you may be eligible for compensation.