It is very common to suffer back pain after being in a car accident or collision. It is also very common not to experience this back or lumbar pain until a few days after the accident occurs. 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. At the time of an accident, whether you or hit from behind by another car or t-boned, your adrenaline is pumping and your body system is working overtime to protect your injury and inflammation. Thus, one does not always feel what is considered to be immediate pain. However, do not ignore the fact that pain can build up the next day and over the next few days and 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. Common Injuries from Car Accidents.
Many of the insurance companies and lawyers who defend a car accident case involving soft tissue injuries to the back will 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. These types of injuries frequently will stay with you for life! 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.
There have been many studies that document these types of “soft-tissue” 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. http://www.rushorthspine.org/david-fardon-md.html
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 possible from these “tearing” injuries. A 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. A herniation is defined as a localized displacement of disc material beyond the limits of the intervertebral space. 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 the disc can definitely result from an accident and can definitely be very painful.
Frequently, disc herniations and even bulges which impinge on the nerve root can result in the necessity of back surgery. Back surgery is usually the last resort and first, one is recommended to try physical therapy, chiropractic medicine, injections and other less invasive forms of therapy. Nowadays, also 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. 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 surgeries like laser surgery to correct these painful conditions. Thus, people should no longer be afraid of back or neck surgery with our current technology and rate of success. http://webmd.com/back-pain/features/spinal-surgery-options#1
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 may need many years of physical therapy and strengthening in order to adapt and heal this injurious state. Hopefully, this gives a slight overview as to what can happen to your spine in a car crash and what steps to take immediately and in the few days after this trauma.