Understanding the Typical Back Trauma Suffered in a Car Crash
According to data collected by the Mayo Clinic, about four of every ten spinal cord injuries suffered by Americans every year are caused by motor vehicle accidents. Back injuries are one of the most common consequences of a collision and can be extremely debilitating, even when impact was at a relatively low speed. Furthermore, many back injuries are internal in nature, making them difficult to observe initially. Here are the most common types of back injuries suffered in car, truck, and motorcycle accidents:
- Whiplash—Though whiplash involves the snapping of the head and neck, it almost always causes pain, discomfort, and trauma to your back. After all, theneck and back work in tandem. When your head ricochets back and forth, it stretches muscles in your back and can have an impact on your upper spine, vertebrae, and discs. While whiplash can take hours or days to fully manifest, it typically includes persistent pain, dizziness, stiffness, and/or fatigue.
- Soft tissue injury—Virtually any level of impact can cause trauma to muscles, tendons, and ligaments in and around your back. Symptoms of soft-tissue injury include stiffness, headache, muscle tenderness, nausea, vertigo, tingling, and numbness.
- Herniated disc—The vertebrae in your spinal column are separated and cushioned by discs that absorb shock and protect sensitive nerve endings. The blunt force of a motor vehicle accident can cause a disc to slip, bulge, or rupture, leading to friction between vertebrae and/or impingement of nerves. Some of the indications of a herniated disc include pain that extends to your legs or arms, pain that gets worse when you stand or sit, pain that increases at night, or unexplained muscle weakness.
- Spinal cord injury—Though your spinal cord is an amazing and resilient body part, even a minor accident can lead to bruising or swelling, and a serious crash can cause spinal fractures or severing of the spinal cord. The most common type of spinal fracture is a compression fracture, where the impact of a crash causes cracks in or along your vertebrae. One of the first symptoms of a compression fracture is localized pain at or near one of your vertebrae. Typically, the pain will increase with any type of movement. A compression fracture, however, can have more serious consequences, including bladder issues, loss of muscle tone, numbness, and loss of sensation. The severing of the spinal cord generally results in some level of paralysis.