Learn about the five most common back and neck injuries after an accident at work
In the greater Atlanta area, serious accidents on the road or in the workplace are a frequent source of personal injury. Accidents cause many different types of injuries, and they’re a leading cause of back and neck injuries such as broken back bones, spinal damage, deep bruises, severe muscle strains, herniated (slipped or ruptured) discs, and joint sprains.
Cervical vertebrae and disc injuries can put pressure on nerves, change the space between the bones, and cause severe, chronic pain. Some back and neck pain is debilitating, preventing a person from returning to work or being able to work at all.
Before we take a look at the common types of back and neck injury, it’s worth gaining a better understanding of how the human spinal column works.
The Spinal Mechanics of Your Back
Your spine is the bone structure that protects the important bundle of nerves connecting your body to your brain. It’s your body’s “electrical system” that makes the right parts move when you want. The spinal bones are called “vertebrae,” and the soft material between the vertebrae are called “discs.” The bones protect your nerves and spinal cord; the discs allow movement.
The spine has three main parts that correspond to the neck (cervical spine), the chest (thoracic spine) and mid to lower back (lumbar spine). A complex arrangement of muscles, tendons, and ligaments connect the muscles that support your entire spine. Your basic posture comes from the proper alignment of the spine.
Your spine is truly a marvel of natural construction due to its strength, flexibility, and durability. However, it’s not indestructible — especially when tremendous force is exerted against it.
5 Common Back and Neck Injuries
Whiplash, or neck strain, is by far the most common spinal injury. It is primarily caused by car accidents — particularly in rear-end collisions — and the damage occurs when a person’s head and neck are suddenly thrust forward faster than the body, causing the cervical vertebrae to “whip.” Most whiplash injuries involve the neck muscles, ligaments and soft tissues in the neck and cervical spine.
Whiplash can range from mild to severe, and these injuries aren’t always consistent with the force of the impact. Some low-impact collisions cause severe neck injuries. Whiplash symptoms include dizziness, headaches, stiff neck and shoulders, fatigue, reduced mobility, tenderness, numbness, and blurred vision.
Thoracic Spine Injuries (Chest, Rib-area, and Mid-Back)
Thoracic spine injuries are another common back injury that is often severe, sometimes resulting in permanent nerve damage. They frequently occur in high-energy impacts from the front or back or in crushing type injuries. Symptoms include stiffness, sudden change in posture, reduced range of motion, muscle spasms, tingling, numbness, weakness as well as pain in the ribs, shoulder, arm, fingers, neck or legs.
Lumbar Spine Injuries (Lower Back)
The weight-bearing lumbar region of the spine has five large vertebrae which are supported by the large muscles in the lower back, hips, and abdomen. Sprains and strains that stretch or damage these important muscles and ligaments of the back can be very painful and limiting. Symptoms include swelling, area soreness, and point tenderness. Lower back injuries such as strains and sprains can interfere with movement and limit the ability to perform daily activities.
Another common back injury is a herniated disc (also referred to as a “ruptured” or “slipped” disc). Herniated discs occur when the soft space breaks down, or when a vertebrae disc is moved or displaced, and the bones press on nerves or nerve roots. The pain from herniated discs can vary from a dull ache to shooting debilitating pain. Other common symptoms include muscle weakness, burning and tingling sensations.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Few injuries are more serious, or costly, than a catastrophic injury to the spinal cord. These injuries may result from a traumatic blow that causes damage to the vertebrae, ligaments or discs of the spinal column, or to the spinal cord itself. Spinal injuries can lead to serious surgeries and medical complications. Symptoms include intense pain and, in many cases, partial or total paralysis.
In addition to these five common back and neck injuries, many other types of damage can be done due to work-related accidents. These include:
- Fractured vertebrae
- Cervical fractures
- Muscle strain
- Neck sprain
- Cervical dislocation
- Cervical radiculopathy
- Spinal stenosis
A Word to the Wise About Back & Neck Injury Treatment
Back, neck and spine injury symptoms don’t always appear in the immediate aftermath of an accident. While some people may suffer immediate symptoms of pain and swelling, others might not know anything is wrong until hours, days, or weeks after the incident.
Early diagnosis is key to detecting the extent of an injury and the basis for a legal claim. The extent and severity of your injury will determine the need for treatment and the extent to which medicine can restore you to a symptom-free state. Some people will have permanent injuries.
Medical examinations and tests provide a scientific and medical basis for the injuries caused by accidents. The limitations and emotional distress caused by the injuries are also significant. They can demonstrate your pain and suffering.
All of these factors can play an important role in your case should you choose to pursue a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim. If you’re considering a lawsuit, it’s time to talk to an experienced and knowledgeable attorney at Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys.