According to the United Spinal Association, there are approximately 17,000 new cases of spinal cord injury annually in the United States, with vehicle crashes being the current leading cause. A spinal cord injury is damage to any part of the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal. Extreme back pain or pressure in your neck, head, or back following a car accident is just one sign that you may have suffered a spinal cord injury. You should seek immediate medical attention. You can find more signs and symptoms of spinal cord injury on the Mayo Clinic’s website.
A car accident or fall can lead to disc herniation. So what is a herniated disc? North Kansas City Hospital’s website explains it as follows:
The bones (vertebrae) that form the spine in your back are cushioned by small, spongy discs. When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. But when a disc is damaged, it may bulge or break open.
When the disc bulges out and pinches the nerves in your back, symptoms can include pain, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling in the extremities, and bowel and bladder problems.
Our necks are comprised of dozens of muscles, ligaments, and tendons that all work together to keep our neck and head in proper alignment to prevent pain from undue pressure on our spinal discs, nerve impingement, and other potential complications. Two of the most important are the Alar Ligaments and their accessory (supporting) ligaments. These ligaments work like finely tuned rubber bands that maintain just the right amount of tension to allow full movement of the upper neck, but not too much movement. When those ligaments are violently whipped and stretched beyond their capacity, they can’t always recover. Just like a rubber band that’s lost its full elasticity and can’t hold your pile of papers together anymore, ligaments that are violently whipped and stretched too far can lose their proper tension and become lax. This allows for the development of a host of cascading problems in the movement and function of the upper neck, many of which can lead to undiagnosed chronic pain.
An acute soft tissue back injury is caused by trauma to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the back. These injuries are commonly diagnosed as sprains, strains, and contusions with varying degrees of severity. Most acute soft tissue back injuries can be relieved with conservative, non-surgical treatment although they may take months to a year to fully heal. Other soft tissue injuries are serious and require therapy or other types of treatment to avoid permanent complications. You should consult your primary care physician if you are experiencing pain, swelling, or bruising in your back following a car accident.
The above are just a few of the various types of back and neck injuries that can be suffered in a motor vehicle collision. The information is not a substitute for a qualified medical evaluation. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above after a traumatic injury, you should contact a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.