In Car Accidents, Spine Injuries

Suppose you were in a car crash. You did everything you were supposed to, taking pictures of the scene, calling the cops to get a police report, contacting your insurance company, and going to the hospital. Now, your “minor bumps and bruises” are developing into severe back pain that runs down your leg.

Back injuries are some of the most common injuries as a result of car accidents. While muscle sprains and mild pain may be treated with physical therapy, medications, and rest, victims with severe spine injuries may need to undergo surgery and receive a lifetime of care, the costs of which can be in the millions.

Are you feeling pain in your back, but you aren’t sure what it is? If you’ve been in a car accident, it may be time to go back to your doctor and get it checked out. Here are the signs that you may have a serious back injury following a car crash.

Your Spine: An Overview

Your back is a remarkably complex structure. It is made up of many parts and pieces, including:

  • Spinal cord: Running from your brain to your tailbone, it helps your brain and body communicate.
  • Vertebrae: The bones that help you stand upright and protect your spinal cord.
  • Discs: Doughnut-shaped shock absorbers that sit in between your vertebrae, helping you move smoothly
  • Spinal nerves: Bundles of nerves that branch off your spinal cord and run into other parts of your body
  • Ligaments and muscles: Soft tissues that add even more strength and stability to your back

Doctors and lawyers often categorize your back into four sections: cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), lumbar (low back), and sacrum (tailbone). Common back injuries include disc injuries, whiplash and other soft tissue injuries, spinal column fractures, and degenerative changes (like spinal stenosis).

When one part of your back is damaged, it can profoundly impact your life in surprising ways. For example, spinal nerves in your neck (or cervical spine) branch off into your shoulders, arms, and hands, helping them move, feel, and function. If swelling or other damage causes pressure on these cervical nerves, you may experience weakness, muscle loss, and intense pain in your arms.

Now, let’s explore back symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

RELATED: Average Settlement for Car Accident Back and Neck Injuries: a Victim’s Guide

1. You Feel Numbness, Tingling or Loss of Sensation

Numbness, tingling, and lost sensation are typically signs that you have nerve or spinal cord damage. While a complete spinal cord injury causes paralysis, incomplete cord injuries can lead to decreased muscle strength, clumsiness, numbness, and other issues. (Your precise symptoms may depend on the location of your spinal cord injury.)

However, most numbness and tingling are due to pressure on your spinal nerves, often caused by inflammation, herniated discs, hematoma, or even bone fragments.

It’s not uncommon for numbness and tingling to develop in the days and weeks after a crash, especially if you have a disc injury. If you notice increasing pain or tingling shortly after a car crash, you should go back to the doctor. While swelling and inflammation may resolve over time, many of these conditions require surgery and other intensive treatment. Notably, if you start experiencing “drop foot,” when it becomes difficult to lift the front of your foot, go immediately to the ER – you may have a serious issue that requires immediate surgery.

2. You Have Bowel or Bladder Dysfunction

If your bowel or bladder is not working properly anymore, you could be dealing with cauda equina syndrome (CES). Your cauda equina (Latin for horse’s tail) is a bundle of nerves in your tail bone. These nerves control essential functions in your pelvis, including bowel and bladder control. When your cauda equina is compressed or injured, you’ll experience sensory and motor dysfunction in your lower extremities and bladder. CES can result in permanent paralysis or incontinence, so it must be treated swiftly.

3. You Are in Constant Pain

Pain is a sure sign that you have a back injury, especially a vertebral compression fracture (VCF). A VCF happens when the vertebral body or bony block located in the spine collapses; this can lead to severe pain. The pain may come on suddenly or get worse as time goes on. You may feel some relief when you lie down. If you can’t bend or twist your body, you become shorter, or you have a stooped and curve shape to your spin, you could be experiencing a spinal fracture. You’ll likely feel pain when bending down to pick something up, lifting groceries or making a misstep.

4. You Notice Pain and Stiffness in Your Legs and Back

Are you feeling stiff in your legs and back? You may have spondylolisthesis, a spinal condition where your vertebrae slip out of alignment. Along with the stiffness, you could also be experiencing thigh pain, tenderness in your lower back and tight buttock muscles and hamstrings if you have this condition. While a minor spondylolisthesis may only require medications and rest, more severe slippages often need surgery.

RELATED: Neck Pain After a Crash Doesn’t Always Mean Whiplash

Treating Your Back Injury: What to Expect

After a car crash, you should always seek medical care. What may seem like minor discomfort may really be early signs of a severe injury. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you’ll get the diagnoses and care you need. While meeting with a neurosurgeon or attending twice-weekly physical therapy sessions may seem intimidating (and expensive), you must follow through to the best of your abilities.

In most cases, surgery will not be your specialist’s first suggestion. Instead, your doctor will probably recommend a course of treatment that includes:

  • Diagnostic testing, like MRIs, CT scans, and nerve conduction studies
  • Medications and pain management services
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Injection, like corticosteroids and nerve blocks
  • Activity limitations and work restrictions

If none of these options work, then your doctor may suggest a surgery, like a fusion, laminectomy, or discectomy.

After a car crash, you should always seek medical care. What may seem like minor discomfort may really be early signs of a severe injury. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you’ll get the diagnoses and care you need. While meeting with a neurosurgeon or attending twice-weekly physical therapy sessions may seem intimidating (and expensive), you must follow through to the best of your abilities.

All of this care is expensive. To get the compensation you deserve, including the cost of your medical bills and lost income, you’ll need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. At Crosley Law, we’ve built a reputation for our cutting-edge approach to injury claims.

For example, our personal injury lawyers represented two federal officers who were in an accident with an oilfield services truck. Both of them suffered serious back injuries and had to undergo intensive medical treatment. Working with medical and accident reconstruction experts, we were able to prove that the other vehicle’s driver was clearly negligent and to blame for their injuries. After mediation, our clients accepted a multi-million-dollar settlement.

RELATED: Jason and Erick’s Story: Crosley Law Helps Border Patrol Agents Injured by a Reckless Driver

Crosley Law: San Antonio’s Car Accident Firm

At Crosley Law, we help crash survivors with severe back injuries get the compensation they deserve. We take a cutting-edge approach to injury law, combining medical knowledge, world-class experts, and aggressive tactics. If you’re experiencing back pain after a car crash, Crosley Law is here for you. Contact us today for a free, no-risk consultation.

To schedule a case evaluation with one of our lawyers, complete this simple online form or call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.


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