A back injury can happen in almost any accident. Whether you fall from a ladder or get hit by a car, the impact can fracture, tear, and pierce your back tissues.
As a result, you may suffer serious disabilities from a back injury. Back injuries can limit your mobility and prevent you from sitting, standing, or walking without pain. Your injuries might limit your ability to work, care for your family, or even care for yourself.
If you’ve suffered a back injury from an accident, it is essential to understand more about the causes of back injuries and how you can receive compensation for them.
What Are the Structures of Your Back?
Your spine includes 24 small bones called vertebrae. These bones stack on top of each other to form a firm column. But they also have joints between them, so you can lean and twist your back.
The spine includes seven vertebrae in the neck, twelve vertebrae in the upper back that connect to your ribs, and five vertebrae in the lower back. Together, these segments of the spine protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord runs through the spinal canal, an opening in the vertebrae that align to form a continuous pathway.
Intervertebral discs sit between the vertebrae. The discs cushion the vertebrae as you walk, run, or jump. They also provide a tough, smooth surface, so the vertebrae can move without grinding.
Ligaments attach to the vertebrae. Tension in the ligaments holds the vertebrae and discs together. The tension also limits the movement of the vertebrae to prevent them from slipping out of place.
Muscles give your back strength and movement. Tendons attach these muscles to your skull, vertebrae, shoulder blades, ribs, and collarbones.
What Types of Back Trauma Can Occur?
An accident can cause a few different types of back trauma, including:
Penetrating trauma happens when something hits your back and produces an open wound. As a result of the open wound, the accident victim could suffer blood loss that can lead to serious complications.
Penetrating back injuries can happen in workplace accidents. For example, you could fall onto something sharp that pierces your back. Similarly, an accident with a tool or machine could propel an object, such as a nail or saw blade, into your back.
You suffer blunt trauma when an object hits your back without penetrating the skin. The force of the impact can break bones and damage soft tissues.
Blunt trauma can happen in slip and fall accidents where your feet slip forward, causing you to fall backward. Blunt trauma can also happen in pedestrian accidents where the collision and the fall to the road surface can damage your back.
When your back gets stretched beyond its normal capacity, you can suffer a hyperextension injury. Hyperextension injuries can stretch or even tear your soft tissues. They can also create enough space to allow your bones to dislocate.
Car accidents commonly cause hyperextension injuries. The impact forcibly stretches your muscles, tendons, and ligaments as your body twists and bends.
Your back is particularly vulnerable to hyperextension during car crashes. As your body whips around, your back stretches, causing the vertebrae to separate. When your body rebounds, your vertebrae crash together. Repeated hyperextension and compression can injure the vertebrae, discs, and soft tissues in your back.
What Are Common Types of Back Injuries?
Back injuries can involve many different structures in your back. The structures that you damage can affect your symptoms and prognosis. Some common back injuries include:
A fractured spine results from blunt back trauma. It can also result from penetrating trauma if you are unlucky enough for the penetrating object to hit a vertebra.
Vertebrae can fracture in two places. The cylindrical body supports your weight and transfers it along your spine. If the body fractures, your spine will become unstable, and bone fragments could dislocate into the spinal canal, paralyzing you.
The processes extend away from the body and form the bumpy ridge in the center of your back. These wing-shaped parts of the vertebrae provide attachment points for ligaments and tendons. When a process fractures, the ligaments and tendons no longer hold the vertebra in place. It can slip and either sever or pinch the spinal cord.
After you fracture your spine, your doctor can stabilize your spine to prevent paralysis. Stabilization may involve surgery to install rods, plates, and screws. You will probably require bed rest while your vertebrae heal and physical therapy after you recover.
Compression of your discs can cause them to deform. A herniated disc happens when the annulus tears and allows the nucleus pulposus to protrude through. A bulging disc happens when the annulus weakens, and the entire disc flattens and sags.
When these nerve roots get compressed, the nerves misfire, producing:
- Pain that radiates into your legs or arms
- Numbness or tingling in your limbs
- Loss of dexterity and coordination
Doctors can treat nerve compression with anti-inflammatory medications.
They can also remove the damaged disc and either fuse the vertebrae or implant an artificial disc. Unfortunately, both of these surgical options can stress the spine, leading to further symptoms and surgeries.
Back Strains and Sprains
Back strain happens when you hyperextend or tear the muscles or tendons of your back. Back strain can cause muscle pain, weakness, and back spasms.
A sprained back happens when you hyperextend or tear the ligaments in your spine. A sprained back can cause pain and limit your range of motion.
Strains and sprains usually require four to six weeks to heal.
How Can You Get Compensation for a Back Injury Resulting from an Accident?
After a back injury, you could face significant medical costs and income losses. Back pain is the most common cause of missed work days in the U.S. because a painful back can limit your ability to sit, stand, or walk.
If your injury resulted from someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your losses. At Kenny Habetz Injury Law, we believe in exceptional customer service and have recovered millions in compensation for our clients.