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Five Common Types of Back Injuries from Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor Vehicle AccidentsIf you have back pain, you are far from alone. The condition is a common cause of job-related disability worldwide and one of the top reasons people visit physicians or miss work. Motor vehicle injury is a common cause of pain in the lower back area. In fact, back injuries rank high in the list of common motor vehicle accident or collision injuries.

Motor vehicle collision can cause several types of back injuries. Depending on the type and extent of injury and strain involved, a person may experience pain, muscle spasms, stiffness, tingling or burning sensation(in the arms and the legs), decreased function and mobility affecting the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Injuries can affect the back, and other extremities that need to be appropriately treated. Generally, the symptoms of motor vehicle accidents/personal injury and the associated trauma take some time to appear. Fortunately, leading multi-specialty pain management and rehabilitation centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer effective treatment options to promote speedy recovery from back injuries associated with vehicle accidents.

Here are some common types of back injuries that frequently result from motor vehicle accidents/collisions –

  • Whiplash injury – Whiplash is a type of neck pain that often occurs when a person is rear-ended in an automobile. This injury, which can usually occurs due to sports accidents, happens when sudden, extreme movements push the head beyond its normal range of motion, causing the muscles and ligaments of the neck and upper back to be over-stretched. The primary symptom of whiplash injury is neck pain or upper back pain and stiffness. Symptoms usually develop within 24 hours of injury and can vary widely among individuals.
  • Herniated disc – Discs are cushions that separate the vertebrae and protect the spine. A herniated disc occurs when a disc is displaced. This type of injury occurs when the soft substance (called the nucleus pulpous) on the inside of the disc is pushed out and begins to leak into its outer fibrous tissue, the annulus fibrosis, placing pressure on a nerve root. Sudden and intense pain in the lower region of the back and numbness in the legs are the most commonly reported symptoms. Treatment for this injury generally starts with NSAIDs and physical therapy exercises. Surgery may be recommended depending on individual patient outcomes.
  • Spondylolisithesis – Spondylolisithesis refers to slipping of vertebra which typically occurs at the base of the spine. Symptoms of this condition include – pain in the buttocks, pain radiating down the legs, lower back pain, and muscle tightness and stiffness. Rest, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy may work well enough to promote healing. However, surgery may be necessary for patients who have a high degree of disc slippage (slippage that is progressively worsening or is damaging the nerves within the spine).
  • Spinal cord injuries (SCI) – Considered the most serious type of back injury, SCI occurs when the impact of a car accident causes a blow to the spine and damages the delicate bundle of nerves within it. This type of injury impairs the brain’s ability to communicate with the body, resulting in paralysis and lack of sensation in all or certain parts of the body. People living with SCI often suffer lifelong disability with complete or incomplete paralysis below the level of injury. The higher an injury is on the spine, the more of the body that will be affected.
  • Compression fractures – This is a type of spinal fracture associated with motor vehicle accidents where the seat belt fails to hold your body in place adequately. Compression fractures are tiny cracks or fissures in the bones of the spine that can eventually cause the vertebrae to collapse and deform. As a result, the shape and structure of the spine may be permanently altered. Pain (that increase with breathing and when you sit down or walk) is one of the common symptoms. On the other hand, bladder issues, numbness, and muscle weakness can also occur with a compression fracture.

Treating and Preventing Back Injuries

Initial diagnosis of back injuries is done through various imaging tests like X-ray, CT scan, MRI, myelogram, and bone scan. Once a correct diagnosis is made, the most appropriate treatment modality can be chosen.

Multispecialty healthcare centers in Brooklyn, NYC combine a wide variety of nonsurgical treatment modalities to treat different types of back injuries associated with motor vehicle accidents. Moderate cases of injuries of the lower back area can be easily treated by using pain medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen), ice or heat application, and TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (which involves application of low-voltage electrical current). Other effective modalities for back pain include physical therapy (which combines therapeutic exercise programs such as gentle strengthening, stretching, and aerobic exercises) and chiropractic treatment (which involves gentle manipulation of the joint and other treatments). Game Ready, another pain management option is a computer controlled system that promotes injury and post-operative recovery by integrating proven cold and compression therapy.

If patients don’t experience full recovery with any of the above nonsurgical treatment methods, surgery will be recommended. Serious back injuries can be effectively treated using surgical procedures which alleviate pressure on the spinal cord and the surrounding nerves.

If you are suffering from back pain following a motor vehicle accident/collision, getting an accurate diagnosis of your injuries is crucial. Back injuries can disrupt work and daily activities, and accurate and timely diagnosis is important for ensuring proper medical care.

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