How common is back pain after car accident?
I would say that back pain after car accident is probably the most common type of pain that an injured person feels. Some of the most common complaints that I seen in new clients involve back and neck pain. This is a very common injury and does require medical or chiropractic treatment.
DOES BACK PAIN AFTER CAR ACCIDENT HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY?
The onset of back pain happens at different times depending on the person. Most people do not realize that it can even take a day or two for one to realize that there is back pain after car accident. Many times car accident victims will have immediate back or neck pain, and other times it is just as frequent to experience back pain the next morning or a few days later.
“Back and spinal cord injuries can be among the most traumatic in an accident. As the car rapidly shifts positions under you, the small discs along your spine can be twisted or pushed out of alignment. Your back bones can even be fractured. This can result in spinal cord injuries, which often result in reduced feeling or function loss in extremities. Along with injuries to the spine, soft tissues such as back muscles and tendons can be strained or pulled. Ligaments can be sprained.”
At the time of a car accident, whether you or hit from behind by another car or t-boned by another car, your adrenaline is pumping and your body system is working overtime to protect your injury and inflammation. You are essentially revved up and oftentimes will not realize the extent of your injuries. Consequently, one does not always feel what is considered to be immediate back pain after car accident.
DO NOT IGNORE BACK PAIN AFTER CAR ACCIDENT
Do not ignore the fact that pain can build up the next day and over the next few days and it is thus very important to seek immediate medical attention, whether it be your local Emergency Room, local walk-in clinic or your family doctor or chiropractor. Please also read my article on my website entitled Common Injuries from Car Accidents.
INSURANCE COMPANIES WILL FIGHT THESE TYPE OF CASES
Many of the insurance companies and lawyers who defend back pain after car accident cases will really fight these type of injuries unless they involve more “serious” back injuries such as fractures or spinal injuries. However, in my experience, the most painful type of back injuries are those that do not show up on MRI or X-rays as they involve injuries to one’s muscular and ligament system. This is also why the insurance companies fight these back pain after car accident cases as they believe if you cannot see the injury, then there is no injury sustained.
BACK PAIN AFTER CAR ACCIDENT CAN LAST A LIFETIME
These types of injuries (back pain after car accident) frequently will stay with you for life! In my opinion, these muscular and ligament back injuries are actually worse than some types of more “serious” back injuries. For example, bone fractures actually heal and will occasionally bother people, but when ligaments and muscles are torn in the back or neck, this is a type of injury that can stay with you for years and for your lifetime. You may need medical treatment and/or physical therapy for many years into the future. It is the work of your car accident lawyer to impress upon the insurance company how severely back pain after car accident can be permanent and painful (for life).
MEDICAL STUDIES SHOW THE SERIOUSNESS OF BACK PAIN AFTER CAR ACCIDENT
There have been many studies that document these types of “soft-tissue” back injuries. For example, in one issue of the publication called SPINE, David Fardon, M.D. explains the different types of lumbar disc pathologies that can occur:
Disc pathology in the lumbar spine can be classified into different groups such as normal, congenital, degenerative, inflammation/infection, neoplasia and a morphologic variant of unknown significance. In-car accidents, as personal injury attorneys, we deal mostly with the category called degenerative/traumatic. Most car accidents are traumatic and can cause annular tears, herniations and ligament damage.
When a tear occurs in the ligament or muscle of the back, sometimes these can be very small or microscopic tears. It is quite important to seek out immediate therapy to recover or attempt to recover as best as possible from these “tearing” injuries. These tearing injuries are caused by the force of impact during a car wreck.
BACK DISC HERNIATIONS CAUSED BY BACK PAIN AFTER CAR ACCIDENT
A lumbar or back disc herniation can even be more serious and can result from the impact or force of the collision, even if it is a relatively minor impact or very little damage to your car. A disc herniation is defined as a localized displacement of disc material beyond the limits of the intervertebral space. This is a fancy way of saying that your disc has been pushed out into your spinal canal. There are many different degrees of herniation, ranging from disc bulges to protrusions to large herniations. The important point to remember is that herniations of a lumbar disc can definitely result from a car wreck and can definitely be very painful. You must take immediate measures to see an orthopaedic surgeon or neurosurgeon if you have a disc herniation.
BACK PAIN AFTER CAR ACCIDENT CAN REQUIRE SPINE SURGERY
Frequently, back or lumbar disc herniations and even disc bulges which impinge on your nerve root can result in the necessity of back surgery. Back surgery is usually the last resort. First, your doctor would probably recommend trying physical therapy, chiropractic medicine, injections and other less invasive forms of therapy for back pain after car accident.
Nowadays, surgeons perform spine surgery with laser techniques which do not even require a stay in the Hospital. Laser surgery is very safe and involves a few minor incisions, minor anesthesia comparatively speaking and much quicker recovery time post-surgery than full blown fusions. The old fashioned way of performing surgery on herniated discs was making a large incision and placing a bone or cadaver bone piece into the space where the herniated disc lies, thus replacing the herniated disc with bone and the bone fuses together with the rest of the spinal canal.
Now, we have better technology and better medicine to allow less invasive type spine surgeries like laser surgery to correct back pain after car accident. Thus, injured car accident victims should no longer be afraid of back or neck surgery with our current technology and rate of success.
Hopefully, an injured victim will not need surgery in the future, but it is always a possibility. I always hope that my clients will respond well to more conservative medical care and will not need surgery, but that is not always the situation, unfortunately. You may need many years of physical therapy and strengthening in order to adapt and heal your back pain after car accident.