Severe back pain as the result of a car accident may be a sign of a more severe injury such as a fractured or dislocated spine or a herniated or ruptured disc, which can be permanent and debilitating injuries.
One of the most common forms of back injury sustained in a car accident is whiplash. It occurs when the head is suddenly hyper extended, or violently thrust forward, and then backward, such as when a vehicle is rear-ended in a car crash. According to WebMd, speeds as low as 15 miles per hour can produce enough energy to cause whiplash. However, that number is high, especially where the vehicle causing the impact is a semi tractor-trailer, which can weigh several thousand pounds and cause a devastating impact at very low speed.
Symptoms of whiplash (as well as more serious back and neck injury) include:
• Neck pain and swelling
• Tenderness along the back of the neck
• Muscle spasms (in the side or back of your neck)
• Difficulty moving your neck around
• Pain shooting from your neck into either shoulder or arm
It is important to seek medical care if you experience any of these symptoms after a car accident. An examination by a medical professional, along with X-Rays, MRIs and CT Scans, can help determine if there are other, more significant injuries, such as a fracture or ruptured disc. Such medical care can be expensive, so it is also important to consult with an experienced car accident attorney in Chicago about recovering damages.
A fractured spine or ruptured disc can be a lifelong problem, and require continued medical care. The spine is composed of bones, or vertebrae, separated by spongy discs that act as shock absorbers, and allow the spine to bend and move, giving the spine its flexibility. When these spongy discs become damaged, they can bulge or break open, and put pressure on nerves. This can cause a tingling sensation, pain and weakness in the parts of the body where the nerves travel.
A specific type of pain, called sciatica, can develop if a ruptured disc occurs in the lower back and press against the sciatica nerve. Sciatica is pain that travels through the buttocks and down a leg to the ankle or foot because of pressure on the sciatic nerve. Weaknesses in both legs, along with the loss of bladder or bowel control, are signs of a more severe type of nerve compression, called cauda equina syndrome. The nerves at the end of the spinal cord are being squeezed, must be treated immediately.
Though nonsurgical treatments, such as rest, physical therapy and pain medication can help treat a herniated or ruptured disc, in severe cases, such as cauda equina syndrome, surgery may be required, and the disc may need to be removed.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious spinal injury as a result of a car accident, contact a top car crash lawyer in Chicago to review your case.