The most common injury individuals sustain when involved in an automobile accident is a back injury. The severity of the injury to the back is dependent on a number of factors such as the intensity of the accident, the location of the injured party in the automobile during the accident, and follow-up medical care received. Often, individuals who sustain a back injury related to an automobile accident do not realize the seriousness of the damage until well after the accident.
One of the minor back injury-related maladies is known as whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the occupant of a vehicle sustains sudden forceful movement and jerking of the neck area due to impact or sudden stop. Damage from whiplash can cause nerve damage, muscular twitching and distortion, lack of mobility, and ligament damage to the neck region. Most often, treatment includes wearing a neck brace to facilitate healing and limit the amount of motion the injured has in the neck while recovering.
Lower Back Injuries
Another common type of back injury that is seen following an automobile accident is lower lumbar or lower back strain. When this type of injury occurs, the individual may experience intense muscle and nerve pain in the lower region of the back just above the buttocks. Lower back injury accounts for a large number of complaints following an accident. Medical professionals treating such injury will encourage the injured to rest immediately following the injury. The injured will also be instructed to do light movements and exercise to strengthen the lower back once the initial injury begins to subside.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The most devastating automobile accident-related back injury an individual may sustain is spinal cord injury. Such injuries may be caused by the compression of vertebrae during the accident which creates excessive pressure on the spinal cord. Corticospinal tract injury is one of the most severe types of injury to the spinal cord that may result from an automobile accident. With the corticospinal injury, the patient may suffer paralysis of varying degree, nerve damage, and autonomic system damage. The worst possible scenario of a spinal cord injury is damage to the area of the spine that controls the autonomic functions of the human body. These functions are involuntary operations of the body such as breathing, swallowing, and bowel and bladder continence. Without the proper functioning of the autonomic system, this type of spinal cord injury could be fatal.
Proper and swift diagnosis of back injuries following automobile accidents is essential in order to begin treatment of the patient as soon as possible. The faster the medical treatment, the better the outcome will be for the injured party. Some common diagnostic tools that are used to detect back injuries are the MRI, CAT, and PET scans which create resonant imaging of the spinal cord and vertebrae in order to locate potentially damaged areas.
When a back injury is the result of an automobile accident, there is usually a responsible party involved who is at fault for the damages incurred. Many injured parties face months of recovery time, missed work, lost wages, and psychological distress during the time after the initial incident of injury. Liability claims and civil litigation are commonly seen in accidents involving back injury.