Understanding the way back injuries can occur is important in determining the type of back injury affecting you and how serious and long-lasting it is likely to be. However, understanding the type of pain you are experiencing from a back injury is also important, and it may be something that your doctor does not always discuss thoroughly with you.
Many people believe that pain is pain, and everyone who is in pain after an accident experiences the same thing. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, there are several different types of pain that people experience after a back injury, and the type of pain or discomfort you are having will determine how your back injury impacts your activities. Some of the most common types of pain or discomfort experienced after a back injury include:
- Muscle spasms. The most common cause of pain after a soft tissue back injury is muscle spasms. These spasms are often caused by nerves that are misfiring signals to your brain or from bones or joints that have been misaligned by the accident. Your body takes over, trying to correct the problem, and the muscle repeatedly cramps, feeling like a hard knot. Muscle spasms can vary in intensity from mild to excruciating. In some cases, people become bedridden due to muscular spasms of the back.
- Burning or tingling. Nerve damage or injury to other parts of the body may feel like a burning or tingling sensation that moves through your back. It can travel down your back, buttocks and legs before beginning again. This is often an indication that you have a pinched nerve in an upper part of your body, particularly the shoulders or neck.
- Muscular stiffness. While you may experience initial stiffness and soreness for a few days after any accident, minor injuries usually heal quickly. When stiffness persists longer, it is often a sign that the muscle is overstressed for some reason. It could be that another area of your back is putting too much pressure on your muscle, or that there is a problem with the nerves around that muscle. Whatever the reason, a continuously stiffened back muscle will ultimately lead to great discomfort and pain.
- Pain when changing positions, walking, or standing. Acute pain that intensifies upon activity, such as when sitting down, standing up, walking or engaging in particular motions, is always a problem. Without realizing it, people with chronic pain will avoid certain positions in order to avoid the pain that comes with it, so they may change their walking gait, their sitting or laying positions, or may engage in less physical activity altogether.
- Sometimes pain is not the problem; instead, it is a complete lack of feeling. Numbness, particularly numbness that reaches to your extremities such as arms or legs, is often a sign of a serious problem with your spinal cord or the muscles surrounding it. It should never be ignored, as it can lead to more serious medical issues.
How Long Does Back Pain Last?
Unfortunately, there is no way to uniformly make predictions about the length of time a patient will take to recover from back pain. It depends on many factors, including your health and physical condition prior to the accident, what type of accident occurred, and the severity of the injury.
In most cases, back pain, with treatment of the root cause, can be resolved in a matter of weeks. However, with more serious injuries, it may take months or years to recover, and some people suffer on and off for the rest of their lives with some degree of pain.
At Barber & Associates, we are committed to working with those who need our help with acute or chronic back pain from personal injuries. Whether you hurt your back in a car accident, a slip-and-fall, or some other type of accident, we can help! Give us a call today to learn more.