Back Injuries from Accidents
U.S. emergency departments treated over 2.5 million people for motor vehicle crash injuries in 2012 alone, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These injuries resulted in $33 billion worth of lost work time. One type of crash injury that often keeps people out of work for months at a time is back injuries.
If you were involved in an accident in the Houston area and suffered a debilitating back injury, you might be eligible to recover compensation through an injury claim. Before you call us to schedule your free consultation with our accident attorneys, read through our Car Accident Guide to see if you have done everything you can to protect your right to compensation.
Once you have done that, call Hilda Sibrian to discuss your case for free: 713-842-9492.
Common Types of Back Injuries
A back injury encompasses many types of injuries including:
- Spinal cord injury
- Fractured vertebrae
- Herniated disk
- Muscle sprains and strains
Spinal Cord Injury and Fractured Vertebrae
The spine has four regions. From top to bottom, beginning at the base of the skull, you have:
- Cervical spine (neck and upper back)
- Thoracic spine (mid back)
- Lumbar spine (lower back)
- Sacrum and coccyx (often called the “tailbone”)
Most fractures of the spine occur in the thoracic and lumbar spine, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). First on the AAOS’s list of causes of thoracic and lumbar fractures are car or motorcycle accidents.
A fracture can also injure the spinal cord.
Symptoms of a Spinal Fracture or Spinal Cord Injury
Symptoms of a spinal fracture or spinal cord injury include:
- Moderate to severe back pain, worse when moving
- Tingling or weakness in your arms and legs
- Bladder or bowel dysfunction
Spinal fractures and spinal cord injuries often occur in major crashes, especially those that place intense pressure on the spinal cord.
What is the treatment for spinal fracture or spinal cord injury?
Treatment depends on the location and severity of the spinal fracture or spinal cord injury. If the injuries are mild and stable, they might be treatable with non-surgical procedures, such as wearing a brace or cast, followed by gradual, careful physical therapy. If the injuries are more severe or are unstable, surgical intervention may be necessary to stabilize the spine.
What are possible complications of spinal fracture or spinal cord injury?
If the patient has to undergo spinal surgery, specific surgical complications can include bleeding, infection, nonunion, failure of the instrument implanted into the spine, and spinal fluid leaks.
General complications of spinal fractures include:
- Pulmonary embolism, in which a blood clot travels to the lungs
- Conditions caused by prolonged immobility and bedrest: pneumonia, pressure sores, and blood clots in the pelvis and legs.
Spinal Cord Injury or Fracture Recovery
It is difficult to predict what the individual patient will experience after a spinal fracture or spinal cord injury. Regardless, these spinal injuries involve a long recovery time.
First, the fracture has to heal. Then, there will be a long period of rehabilitation. During the rehabilitation, medical professionals will try to restore mobility and return the patient to as much function as possible.
The location and severity of the spinal fracture or spinal cord injury will be important factors in the long-term condition of the patient. Other factors include any other injuries the patient suffered in the crash, and any complications that occurred during the treatment, healing, or rehabilitation stages.
Ongoing pain, lack of mobility, weakness, and even paralysis are possible long-term outcomes of spinal fracture or spinal cord injury.
Herniated disks are usually less severe than spinal fractures or spinal cord injuries; however, they also have complications that can keep accident victims out of work for weeks or months. Herniated disks occur when force placed on the spine causes the jelly-like sacs between the vertebrae to tear. When the disk tears, the fluid inside the disk oozes out and places pressure on nearby nerves.
Most people recover well from herniated disks. In most cases, treatment is non-surgical and includes pain and anti-inflammatory medication, rest, and physical therapy. If the herniated disk is not responding to treatment, surgery might be necessary.
Recovery from surgery can take weeks or months.
Back Muscle Sprains and Strains
Back sprains and strains are common in accidents. Sprains are torn or stretched ligaments in the back. Strains are torn or stretched muscles or tendons.
If you have experienced a sprain or strain, you will likely experience:
- Difficulty moving the affected area
With a sprain, you might also experience bruising or hear a pop in the joint.
Treatment for both is non-surgical. You can treat sprains and strains by resting and icing the injury, wrapping it or wearing a device on the area, and medications.
After the initial period of resting, icing, and compression by wrap or device, your doctor might include physical therapy in your treatment plan. Back muscle sprains and strains usually have good recovery and long-term outcomes.
Recovering Compensation for Back Injuries from an Accident
While not all of these injuries require invasive surgeries or months of recovery time, the costs of your injury can add up quickly. If your injury resulted from another party’s negligence, you might be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, and other accident-related costs, through an injury claim.