Category: Spinal Cord Injury | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Your spine is one of the more commonly injured areas of your body during a serious car accident. Car manufacturers and safety officials have helped ensure that vehicles continue to get better at protecting its occupants, but oftentimes the technological advancements are designed to protect two specific areas of your body – your head and your chest/heart. Airbags and seat belts are designed to keep these areas from absorbing an impact, but oftentimes they simply shift the force to your spine. Today, we take a look at five common back injuries that people can suffer in auto accidents.
Whiplash is a very common injury during near end collisions which send the driver’s head snapping backwards. Whiplash generally affects the cervical portion of your neck, and symptoms may include pain, stiffness, headaches, dizziness, blurred vision and soreness. Rest and physical therapy are two of the best ways to manage symptoms associated with whiplash.
A spinal fracture can occur during a car crash because the seat belt doesn’t do a great job of keeping our whole body in one place. Our lower half generally stays rather still, but our chest and head often experience more movement. These simultaneous forces can result in a compression fracture of the spine, which can bring about symptoms of pain, numbness, muscle weakness or bladder issues. Some fractures are treated with surgery, while others heal with rest and immobilization.
The spinal discs between the vertebrae absorb a great deal of force during a car accident, so it’s no surprise to learn that one or more discs can shift out of place during an accident. When the disc shifts, it can compress nearby nerves or structures, causing radiating pain or numbness. Many disc herniations can be treated with conservative care, but if it is severely herniated or threatening vital structures, surgery can fix the problem disc.
This condition is caused when a vertebrae shifts out of place due to a stress fracture in the bone. Similar to a herniated disc, the displaced bone can compress nearby nerves or the spinal canal, causing numbness, weakness, pain and difficulty walking. The location of the bone and the extent of the displacement will determine if you’ll need surgery or if physical therapy can help alleviate symptoms.
Spinal stenosis isn’t usually caused by a car accident, but a car accident can oftentimes cause asymptomatic spinal stenosis to become symptomatic. If you’re already dealing with spinal canal narrowing and vertebral height degeneration, which is natural as we age, the trauma from an accident can accelerate the onset of symptoms that likely wouldn’t have developed until years down the road. Hands-on treatment with a spinal specialist can help to determine exactly what’s causing your pain and how to best manage it after your accident.