Your spine and connecting muscles are vulnerable to injury in a car accident. Afterward, pain can exist in the upper, middle and lower back. Spine and back injuries can be aggravating, debilitating, painful and long-lasting.
The lower back is the most prone to car accident injuries as it is highly flexible and already subject to stress due to being the primary load-bearer of your torso. The bones and ligaments of the spine can be damaged, as can the muscles and tendons which support your back. The nerves at the base of the spine can also be harmed, as can internal organs.
As sufferers of back pain know, the condition can range from mild discomfort to agony. Generally speaking, acute back pain is intense and lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Chronic back pain is less severe, but also persists for a long period of time and may re-occur frequently. Though acute or severe back pain improves over time, chronic back pain can get progressively worse. It’s a painful and frustrating reality for victims of back-related injuries.
The spinal column runs through and supports the back. Under normal function, your body freely sends nerve signals between the brain and the limbs and all of this passes through your spinal cord. An injured back can disrupt this flow. At the same time, nerve signals transmit pain and other sensations between your limbs and brain.
The impact of a car accident can push the vertebrae — which support and protect the spinal column — out of place. Without question, the back is a complex part of the body. Consequently, there are many types of back injuries.
Vertebrae are separated by discs (acting as shock absorbers) and are held together by muscles and tendons, all of which are linked from the base of the head (the cranium) down to the coccyx or tailbone. If these bones or tissues are forced out of place, pain is brought on when they rub against one another and/or when the nerves that enter the spinal column are compressed.
Lower back pain is disruptive to a person’s work, home-life and recreational activities. Back pain is the most common neurological condition that people suffer, other than headaches. The circumstances of a car accident aside, adults are more likely to experience back pain than children, simply due to age-related degeneration of the spine.
Chronic back pain may be a result of strained muscles, nerve root or tissue damage, or injury to any of the bones, discs, ligaments, and joints that make up your back. Sufferers of chronic back pain can have one or more of a variety of conditions, for example: a herniated disk – whereby a disc of the spine bulges, ruptures or perhaps even breaks off and puts pressure on nearby nerves; fibromyalgia — when a person is subjected to ongoing aches, tenderness, and stiffness; and sciatica — pain in the legs brought on by pressure on the nerves of the lower back.
Additionally, back injuries can lead to conditions that weaken the body over time, such as osteoporosis, which impacts the bones, or osteoarthritis, which breaks down the cartilage around the joints. Cartilage is a material that acts as a cushion between your bones. If cartilage breaks down, bones rub against one another. This is painful and also impairs your ability to move.