Back Injury After a Car Accident
Denver Back Injury Attorneys
Statistics Regarding Back Injuries Suffered in Car Accidents
A spinal surgeon, quoting Mayo Clinic statistics stated auto accidents are one of the leading causes of back injuries, responsible for more than 40 percent of back and spinal injuries each year. While the spine is very complex, it is not built to withstand the impact of an auto accident. Both neck and back injuries are common injuries associated with car accidents. The sudden impact of an auto accident can strain back ligaments and muscles, putting significant force on the facet joints.
Some muscle sprains may heal on their own, but more serious back injuries will require medical intervention. Depending on the injury to the back, the injury may worsen if the individual is moved. Because of this, it is virtually never a good idea to move a person who has been injured in an auto accident until the medics arrive.
Most people would be surprised to know that a full 80 percent of adults will have some level of back injury during their lives. Five percent of those that experience a back injury will have that injury turn into a chronic, debilitating—even disabling—condition. As many as one million back injuries occur in the workplace, usually from bending and lifting or falling from a height. In fact, as many as one in five workplace injuries is a back injury.
Misconceptions Associated with Back Injuries
Back pain can be difficult to diagnose and can take time, expertise on the part of the doctor, and collaboration between medical professionals. A back injury can result in a number of back problems at the same time, such as a herniated disk and spinal stenosis. Unfortunately, there is no single diagnostic test that can accurately determine the specific type of back injury, and some diagnostic tests—such as nerve block injections—can provide a false-positive or false-negative result.
A combination of clinical tests, questions by a trained medical provider, and medical imaging scan can help your doctor more accurately diagnose your back injury. Pain is not always a good indicator of the severity of a back injury because pain is so subjective. Some people are more able to handle pain, while others are much less able to do so. “Mild” back pain to one person could rate as a ten on the pain scale to another—severe and overwhelming. A person who suffers an auto injury could have chronic, severe pain, yet the doctor may not be able to accurately pinpoint the source of that pain.
This can cause insurance companies to refuse to pay for treatment for those whose back was injured in a car accident. Further, compared to other medical conditions, there are relatively few standardized approaches to diagnose and treat back injuries. Back specialists may even disagree on the diagnosis and treatment, making it even more difficult to convince an insurance company to pay for the back injury. So, while back injuries can result in an inability to return to work and make a living and even the inability to perform day-to-day activities, a person with a back injury from an auto accident may feel as though he or she is facing an uphill battle in getting the compensation they need and are entitled to receive.
Understanding Back Injuries
Back injuries resulting from a car accident will often require extensive, costly medical treatments. Such injuries can also result in chronic, long-term pain, and emotional suffering. Some of the most common back injuries resulting from an auto accident include:
- Spinal fractures are common when the car’s seat belt fails to adequately hold the body in place during the accident. One type of spinal fracture is known as a compression fracture, which causes a small crack along the vertebrae, bringing pain, as well as bladder issues, muscle weakness, and numbness. Although minor spinal fractures may heal on their own (with rest and immobilization), others may require surgical intervention. The primary symptom of a spinal fracture is moderate to severe back pain that worsens with movement, and it is important that a person with a spinal fracture be immobilized with a neck collar and backboard as quickly as possible.
- A herniated disc can occur when the individual’s spine suffers significant force during the auto accident, causing compression of nerves, shifting of discs, numbness, and pain. In most instances, a herniated disc will be treated in a non-invasive manner—physical therapy and pain management. If the herniated disc injury is severe and is impacting other body structures, surgery may be required.
- Spondylolisthesis from an auto accident can compress the spinal nerves or spinal canal, resulting in difficulty walking, weakness, significant pain, and numbness. Spondylolisthesis is usually treated with physical therapy or surgery, depending on the extent of the injury.
- Spinal cord injuries can occur even in low-speed car accidents when the spinal cord is bruised, cut, or severed during the impact. In some cases, permanent paralysis can occur.
How a Doctor Can Help Those with Back Injuries
A back injury stemming from an auto accident that is relatively minor may be treated with rest, ice, and/or heat. Ice is generally used immediately after the accident for 1-3 days, then heat. A doctor may prescribe either over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen, to minimize swelling, or could prescribe stronger prescription painkillers.
While most people with a back injury are not too inclined to move much, gentle exercise can help reduce back pain following an auto accident. Walking several times a day can help maintain muscle strength, improving blood flow to the spine. A massage therapist can recommend stretching exercises to maintain flexibility and build muscle strength in the injured area. Those with more serious back injuries may have to undergo back surgery and engage in long-term physical therapy.
How an Experienced Denver Back Injury Attorney Can Help
Back injuries from an auto accident can seriously disrupt work and daily activities, result in significant, chronic pain, and require extensive medical treatments and care. Not only can this reduce your quality of life, but it can also severely impact your finances. Denver personal injury attorney Dianne Sawaya can help you determine the right options for your specific situation and injuries. Dianne is a native to the Denver area and believes strongly that those injured by the negligence of another deserve the highest level of help she can provide. Contact the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya today for the help you need with your back injury.