The force that is created when your car crashes into an object, whether a stationary object or another vehicle, is enough to send your spine into fits. If you were lucky enough, the crash you were just in was not bad enough to crush you. Unfortunately, you are not out of the woods just yet.
The impact caused by a car accident, even one at a medium speed, could do damage to your spine and its surrounding area that could change your quality of life, and it can happen in a second. Despite the protection that the spine has to prevent injury, it is not equipped to handle the most ordinary car accidents.
Injuries to the back via car accidents are more common than people think. From temporary pain and discomfort to severe pain and loss of movement, a car accident can run the gamut of spinal injuries.
If you have ever spoken to someone who was in a car accident, hearing a complaint about chronic back pain is not a surprise. The neck and lower back are especially vulnerable to injury and are most frequently damaged. The human spine is not made to withstand the impact that a crash creates.
What Protects the Spine?
The spinal cord has two main purposes: to support the weight of the body, and to protect the spinal cord and nerves. It is critically important that your back not become injured. The spine has three parts: the cervical spine, which has seven bones in the neck area; the thoracic spine, which has 12 bones in the chest area; and the lumbar spine, which has five bones in the lower back area.
The adult spine contains 24 vertebrae, which are aligned on top of one another from the skull to the pelvis. The main purpose of the vertebrae is to protect the spinal cord and nerves that run vertically in the body, and to send messages throughout.
The vertebrae also provide structure to the body and allow for the versatility of movement. The vertebrae have discs that lie between them. Discs serve to help hold the vertebrae in place, bear the weight of the body, and absorb and distribute shock.
The spinal column is a combination of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. It is a complex web of interacting parts for the purpose of movement and protection. It is the centerpiece of the human body, and it must stay intact to do its many jobs. Any injury to any of the vertebrae can send a tidal wave of problems throughout the body.
How Do Most Neck and Back Injuries Happen in Car Accidents?
The force that a car accident exerts on the body is too much for the body to bear. Violent movement of the body in one direction and then another can cause many light to serious injuries. From temporary discomfort to a permanent back injury, a car accident victim almost never escapes without experiencing some type of back problem.
The cause of most back injuries when in a car accident is whiplash. This is the term that describes the sudden thrust of the head that the body is just not equipped to handle. Whiplash occurs when the head is violently thrust forward and backward.
When a car crashes, the body is thrown forward while the head remains in place. This causes severe extension and flexion to the neck. The head then follows, being whipped forward then backward. The outcome, depending on the speed of movement, is almost never a good one.
The lower back is also a commonly injured part of the back. Although the lumbar area can be affected by a neck injury because of the sciatic nerve that runs along the entire spine, it is not uncommon for it to be directly injured. The lower back bears most of the body’s weight, and it is also responsible for half of a person’s ability to bend forward. An injury to the lumbar spine, therefore, could be a nightmare.
Although a neck injury is more common when whiplash occurs, the lower back is vulnerable to the same type of force. A rollover accident can especially be devastating to the lower back because of the force that is brought directly down to the lower body. The legs in a car are not in use to distribute the shock, so all the force in a rollover accident comes down to the lower back.
What Are Common Car Accident Injuries to the Spine?
Severe trauma to the neck can easily cause herniated or bulging discs, fractured vertebrae, strains and sprains. Since everything is connected, an injury to the neck can cause pain to your middle and lower back, arms and legs, and even your hands and feet. Numbness and burning sensations in your extremities can often occur, and mild to severe pain in those areas is also common.
The most common lumbar injuries are the tearing of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Sprains are common and can cause any number of acute problems from spasms to extreme pain and the lack of mobility. It is also possible to suffer herniated discs, dislocated facet joints, which are part of the vertebrae, or fractured vertebrae.
What Are Herniated Discs?
Discs are rubbery cushions between vertebrae that are shaped like discs. They cushion the bones, acting like shock absorbers. Moreover, they give the spine the flexibility it needs to allow the body to twist and bend.
A disc is made up of an inner and outer layer. The outer layer, called annulus fibrosus, is tough. The inner layer, called nucleus pulposus, is soft and gel-like. A disc becomes herniated when the outer layer of a disc ruptures and the inner layer, the jelly-like nucleus pulposus, bursts out of the outer layer and presses on a nerve.
The result of a herniated disc could be slight to intense pain in the back. The arm or leg can experience weakness or numbness or both. The hands and feet could also become numb. This is because when the nerves are pressed by the disc, the signals that pass along the nerves are blocked. The discs could also release a chemical irritant that could cause inflammation and pain to the nerves.
How Do Sprains and Strains Happen in a Car Accident?
Sprains and strains are common in the lumbar area of the spine. The spine, like other parts of the body, has ligaments and tendons. Ligaments are short bands of strong and flexible tissues that contain fiber. Ligaments connect bones to joints. Tendons are made up of strong but flexible tissue that connects muscles to bones. Tendons allow you to move your limbs.
An injury to a tendon in the spine can be serious. It can inhibit your mobility, and even worse, it can increase the possibility of incurring more injuries. Spinal tendonitis could also occur. A bad condition that can result from a tendon injury is spinal tendonitis. This is not only painful, but it can also restrict blood flow to the injured area. The healing time of the injury, as a result, is usually slow.
When your body in a car accident is quickly and forcefully thrust back and forth or side to side, you are subjected to a strain or sprain. A strain usually involves the extension of soft tissue that in turn pulls or twists your tendons. Sprains are most often caused by the joint being forced to extend outside its range of movement, causing overstretching of the ligament. A severe sprain can look and feel as though it were a fracture.
A fractured vertebrae could cause many problems as well. The symptoms include acute or chronic back pain, a loss of height, or a hunched posture. A dislocated facet joint is also a common injury from a car accident.
A facet joint connects the bones of the spine. They allow the passage of nerves from the spinal cord to the arms, legs, and other parts throughout the body. They help you twist or bend without causing injury to your spine. When damaged, whether fractured or dislocated, they can cause you severe pain by pressing against or damaging your nerves.
Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Represent Those Injured in Car Accidents.
If you were in a car accident and suffered a back injury or other types of injuries, call our experienced Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, Eastern Shore. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.