Knowing how back injuries occur and the types of pain that can result from them is important. It is also important to know what types of injuries are most common in slip-and-fall, vehicle, and other accidents. Understanding what types of injury you may have experienced will help you make an informed decision on how long you may expect to be in recovery and what you will need to take care of yourself and your family. Of course, a qualified physician should always be consulted in order to make a complete diagnosis of any back injury.
Types of Back Injuries
Most back injuries can be divided into three categories: soft tissue injuries such as whiplash; injuries to bones or bone structures; and exacerbation or acceleration of existing problems. If you already have a spinal issue, an accident can certainly cause it to become much worse. On the other hand, perfectly healthy people may also be left with permanent injuries due to a personal injury accident. It is also possible for a victim to have more than one type of injury simultaneously. This can confuse the issue and may cause insurance companies or others to believe that the victim is not being truthful about the extent of his or her pain and suffering.
Here are seven common types of injuries that make up most personal injury cases.
- Lumbar or thoracic fractures. Vertebrae are the bones that make up the back. When they are cracked or broken, it is referred to as a fracture. A lumbar fracture takes place in the lower part of the back; a thoracic fracture takes place in the upper back. Fractures can take many forms, from burst fractures, in which multiple parts of the bones are crushed and scattered throughout the body; to compression fractures, in which small cracks or breaks occur in the bone; to dislocations, when the bone is moved out of its correct alignment.
- Sprains and strains. Sprains and strains are related, but different, injuries. A sprain is an injury in which the ligaments that connect joints to bones, or bones to other bones, are damaged. A strain is an injury in which the soft tissue itself is stretched too intensely, leading to damage. Both strains and sprains can be very difficult to treat successfully and can lead to intense pain. Even worse, standard imaging tests do not show this type of injury, making it difficult to spot.
- Herniated disc. A herniated disc is one in which a disc of the spine shifts and compresses nerves. This may also be referred to as a bulging disc or a ruptured disc, especially if the ensuing herniation results in tears to the fluid-filled sac that cushions the spinal cord inside the spine. This type of injury can result in numbness, burning, and weakness and may affect many parts of the body far removed from the injury location.
- A stress fracture can lead to displacement of the vertebrae. When this happens, the vertebrae can compress the spinal canal, pinching nerves and causing extreme pain, numbness, or weakness. This type of injury may also make it difficult for the patient to walk.
- Facet joint injuries. From the spine, nerves run to various areas of the body such as arms and legs. The facet joints facilitate movement in these areas without causing damage to these nerves. During an accident, facet joints can become injured, leading to pain, muscle spasms and what is known as a “pinched nerve.”
- Pain in discs. Any damage to the spine will often result in local or general pain that can be difficult to pinpoint or describe. One problem with disc injuries is that people experience the symptoms very differently. One person with a certain disc injury may find lying down difficult; another may experience severe pain in the hips when standing. Most people find that any repetitive action over a period of time worsens the pain.
- Spinal degeneration. There are a number of degenerative conditions of the spine that can be started or accelerated by an accident. These include bulging discs, scoliosis, osteoarthritis, bone spurs, herniated discs, sciatica, and stenosis. Those experiencing these issues may not notice symptoms immediately after an accident; in some cases, symptoms may take some time to develop.
Whatever your back injury, it is very important to seek medical care and to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. At Barber & Associates, we are here to help you recover compensation for your back trauma, including payment of your medical bills, money to pay for lost wages, and compensation for your pain and suffering. Give us a call today to learn how we can help.