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Common Back Injuries Following a Car Accident

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What to Do About Back Pain Following a Car Accident

Car accidents can lead to a number of physical injuries, including back issues. That’s true whether you’re in a major collision or a minor fender bender, so understanding common car accident-related back injuries can be helpful.

These types of injuries can range from sprains and strains to catastrophic spinal cord injuries. However, because back pain is so common in the United States and can be caused by so many factors, it can be difficult to successfully seek compensation for back injuries caused by car accidents.

What Types of Back Injuries Might Be Caused in a Car Accident?

Every person is unique, and each accident and injury involves different factors. If you are having back pain after a car accident, it’s important to get medical attention so you know what you’re dealing with and what the recommended treatments might be. You never want to diagnose your own back problems, as you may treat something in an inappropriate way or leave a problem to get worse over time.

That being said, when you are involved in an accident on the roadway and develop back pain afterward, it’s likely to be related to one of the types of injuries below.

Sprains or Strains

These types of injuries occur within muscles and tendons. If you move in a sudden, harsh, or unnatural way during the events of a car accident, these soft tissues in your back can stretch too far. This leads to damage to the ligaments and other soft tissues, which can result in discomfort or serious pain.

Fracture of Vertebrae

Depending on age, health, and whether or not any past back problems occurred, a person has between 24 and 33 vertebrae on average. These are the bones that form the back and protect the spinal cord. They’re divided into three areas: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar.

Any of these bones can break or fracture. Symptoms of spinal fracture can include numbness or tingling in the extremities, muscle spasms in the back, feelings of weakness or full paralysis in certain limbs, neck or back pain, and issues with bowel or urinary control.

Degenerative Spinal Disorders

One thing that makes back injuries following a car accident difficult to deal with and manage is that they may not show up right away. In some cases, the damage done to the back during a car accident doesn’t result in immediate symptoms.

However, it can cause degeneration of the spine over the course of months or even years. This can cause or exacerbate other issues, including bulging discs, bone spurs, sciatica, pinched nerves, some forms of scoliosis, and spinal osteoarthritis.

Herniated Discs

The force and jarring movement exerted during a car crash can cause alignment issues with discs in the back. If a spinal disc becomes misaligned so that the inner part pushes outside of the normal column, it’s known as a herniated disc.

Some symptoms you might experience with this condition can include numbness in your extremities, pain that is worsened by moving your head or neck, and pain or numbness in one of your arms or legs. You might also experience sudden sharp pains in parts of your body, such as your hips or buttocks, as well as pain in your shoulder blades.

Facet Joint Injuries

Facet joints connect some of the bones in your back to support functional movement. Nerves move through these joints, traveling down your spine from the brain and throughout the extremities. Due to the presence of nerves in these joints, damage to the joint can result in serious pain as well as numbness, tingling, and other issues further along in the body.

Spinal Cord Injuries

If your spinal cord is severed or damaged during a car accident, you can experience serious complications, including partial or full paralysis.


This is another condition that involves displacement of the vertebrae. However, unlike with a herniated disc, the damaged vertebra doesn’t slip outside the spinal column. Instead, it pushes down into another vertebra, causing compression of nerves and the spinal canal. Such compression can cause lower back pain, pain in the buttocks or upper legs, issues with hamstring muscles, and numbness or tingling in the lower extremities.

What Should You Do If You Believe You Have Back Pain After a Car Accident?

Back pain is complex and often requires experienced medical teams to diagnose and treat. Most of these conditions require imaging for diagnosis, and common treatments range from traditional RICE applications to surgery. Physical therapy, pain medication, and lifestyle changes may all be recommended by physicians.

If your car accident-related back injury is severe, you may find that you’re unable to work. With medical bills piling up and no way to maintain your previous wage, you obviously want to ensure that insurance companies compensate you for your losses. Unfortunately, you first need to demonstrate that your back injuries and pain are related to the car accident and not any other incident. In some cases, it can be an uphill battle simply to prove that back injuries weren’t a pre-existing condition before a car accident.

That’s where experienced personal injury attorneys come in. The right legal team works closely with you to make a case for compensation. This can involve ordering medical records, investigating the crash scene, gathering evidence and witnesses, and hiring expert witnesses to provide testimony about your back condition.

If you are suffering from back pain following a car accident, don’t leave everything up to the insurance company. Contact Jarrett & Price, trial attorneys, today at 912-244-7479 to find out how we can help with your case.

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