What Causes Neck and Lower Back Pain After a Car Accident?

Your Body After a Car Crash

Nobody wants to be involved in a car crash. Your vehicle may be damaged, your insurance rates could go up, and, most importantly, you could sustain painful, life-altering injuries. Even minor crashes, which may not appear as big a deal, can leave a lasting impact on your body as the force at which you crash can damage your neck and back severely. These areas are particularly sensitive to sudden, jerking movements, and it can result in whiplash or lower back injuries. Since these areas are crucial to maintaining regular bodily functions, an injury like this can affect you in significant ways.

Neck Strains and Whiplash

When you are in an accident, the force of your vehicle crashes into another object at high velocity causes everything to jerk in that direction. In a car, you may encounter factors that will prevent your entire body from going entirely in one direction – the steering column or your seatbelt will hold you back, for example. The pressure that stops your momentum can put immense strain on your neck and lower back.

Whiplash is often a result of an incident like this, most notably a car accident. The force of the crash causes the muscles and tendons to stretch and tear, straining your neck. While you may not exhibit symptoms of whiplash right away, they are hard to ignore once they set in. If you feel any of the following immediately or in the days after an accident, you may have whiplash.

  • Headaches radiating from the base of your neck to your forehead
  • Tightness and discomfort
  • Limited range of movement, including side-to-side, up and down, or looking over your shoulder
  • Tenderness

Is Your Lower Back Pain The Result Of A Car Crash?

80% of Americans suffer from some form of back pain or discomfort in their life. It is one of the most common types of back pains, so it is often not the first thing you think of after an accident. While some may experience pain immediately, others may not feel anything for days or even weeks after the crash. Lower back pain can begin gradually, and many clients often complain about delayed back problems following a vehicular accident. In the majority of cases, we can trace lower back pain down to two things: disc injuries, and facet joint injuries.

Discogenic Pain
For example, you may experience discogenic pain after a crash, stemming from an injury in the spinal disks. These are the small, round pieces of cartilage that act as padding between each of the bones in your spine. If damaged, it can restrict your movement, including your ability to walk or stand properly. Spinal disc issues typically develop over time, as the bones deteriorate. Sudden trauma can also cause discogenic pain, and is often more painful and debilitating.

The lower part of your back, called the lumbar, often takes the brunt of the impact. Most spinal disc pain is due to a lumbar strain, or something to do with the lower back. However, spinal stenosis, disc herniation, or certain spinal disorders can also cause discogenic problems.

Lumbar Sprains

Sprains occur in the body when excessive force is used, causing the muscles to overexert themselves. This type of strain on the muscles and tendons can lead to pain, discomfort, and swelling. Many clients complain about trouble sleeping or lying down, while other may feel sharp pains when walking or bending over. As you can imagine, this can greatly impact your ability to complete important tasks, or even walk across your home.

When an injury occurs in the lumbar, it can be particularly painful due to the sensitivity of this area. Since this area is mostly flexible cartilage, it cannot sustain a hit as well as the other areas, like the thoracic area (which consists of the portion of your spine that supports your ribs).

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis occurs when the bone that houses your spinal nerves and cord narrows. Typically, this happens over time with the natural aging process. However, like lumbar sprains, trauma from an accident can also cause this. In this case, spinal stenosis occurs when a bone fragment or ruptured disc lodges in the spinal canal. This then causes pressure on the nerves and cord, leading to severe pain and discomfort radiating from the area.

Disc Herniation

A hernia occurs when a soft tissue tears through a denser external tissue. Your spine is comprised of many little vertebrae, each separated by a cushion-like pad. These pads are known as the discs, and when sudden force occurs, like that of a car accident, it can cause the disc to rupture. The soft filling of the disc pushes through the hard outer casing, resulting in a disc herniation. For many patients, the rupture itself does not hurt, the pressure from the ruptured disc on your surrounding nerves can cause extreme discomfort.

Facet Joint Pain

Unlike the spinal cord, discs, or vertebrae, the facet joints are a lesser known, but equally important, area of the spine. They sit behind the vertebrae and are surrounded by a flexible membrane that produces a lubricating fluid that is crucial to facilitating your movements. The facet joints are responsible for supporting your body’s weight and preventing you from moving your body in the wrong direction. For example, the facet joints allow you to swivel your torso around but prevent you from bending fully in half. As with most of the spine, this area is filled with nerves. When you sustain an injury to the facet joints, it can be especially painful because of those nerves.

Facet joint pain often feels similar to discogenic pain, and it can be hard to diagnose without an experienced medical professional. Some symptoms include muscles spasms, which leads to further misalignment and neck/back pain.

The Importance Of Proper Care and Attention

Have you recently started developing neck or lower back pain? If you have been in a car or truck accident, your pain may be related to the damages you sustained. In this case, we recommend contacting a licensed medical professional immediately. A proper diagnosis is essential, as improper treatment can cause your injury to get worse! An MRI, tomography, or x-ray can sometimes help doctors to determine the source of your pain and how best to treat it.

In many cases, your treatment could be as simple as an alternating hot and cold compress or NSAIDs, aka anti-inflammatory medication. More severe injuries will likely need physical therapy or, in extreme cases, even surgery. Chiropractic care, certain exercises, and even therapeutic massages may also help in healing any damages, but you should always discuss these alternatives with your physician beforehand. The last thing you want is to make the pain or problem worse accidentally.

Seeking Compensation Following a Car Accident

After an accident, you may need hospital care, physical therapy, medication, and more. Many of our clients are unable to work or get themselves to and from appointments due to loss or damage to their car. Additionally, the emotional distress you can sustain from an incident like this can further add on to your stressful situation.

Thankfully, you have options. At the DRG Law Firm, we go above and beyond for our clients. We review all of our cases carefully to help our clients sue for any losses they may have sustained. You deserve compensation and peace of mind! Contact us today at 888-413-8353 to schedule a complimentary consultation with our expert personal injury attorney.

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