The spine is one of the most sensitive parts of the human body. Any spinal trauma caused by a traffic collision—no matter how minor—can result in ongoing discomfort or chronic pain. The spine is made up of 24 small bones, called vertebrae, and gel-like discs that provide cushioning.
The purpose of the spine is to:
- Protect the spinal cord and nerves
- Provide structural support and balance
- Allow physical mobility
The impact of a rear-end collision, frontal collision, head-on collision, or T-bone crash can severely (and sometimes permanently) damage the spine. Here are some common types of spinal injuries caused by collisions.
Whiplash involves damage to the soft tissue in the neck caused by a whip-like motion of the neck. It is one of the most underestimated types of spinal injuries. After a rear-end collision, you may feel perfectly fine, but whiplash may develop hours or days later.
Common symptoms include:
- Neck pain
- Loss of neck mobility
- Stiffness in the shoulders and upper back
- Tingling in the arms
With proper treatment and avoiding certain activities that could worsen your condition, it can still take months to recover from whiplash,
If you were hit in a rear-end collision, it's critical that you see a doctor as soon as possible, then consult with a car accident attorney.
Slipped or Herniated Discs
Herniated discs are often caused by long-term strain to the spine. Single strains or trauma (such as that caused by a collision) can also lead to a herniated disc. The fluid inside of a disc may spill out due to a disc rupture and put pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord.
Symptoms of a slipped or herniated disc may include:
- Numbness, pain, or tingling in the arms and/or legs
- Pain that worsens when sleeping in certain positions, standing, or walking
- Muscle weakness
Your doctor will need to perform an x-ray, MRI, CT scan, or discogram of your spine. Treatment may require months of physical therapy, exercise, and stretching. Surgery may be required if the injury is serious enough.
The impact of a serious crash may result in fractures of the vertebrae. When any vertebrae is either broken or dislodged, it can place pressure on the spinal cord and result in debilitating pain.
People who sustain spinal fractures may experience:
- Loss of mobility
- Severe pain and discomfort in the back and limbs
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Inability to walk
According to healthline.com, minor spinal fractures may heal on their own with the right treatment, a back brace, physical therapy, and rest. In more serious cases, surgery may be required.
What to Do If You Sustain a Spinal Injury in a Crash
Always seek medical attention after a crash, even if your back pain seems minor. Your doctor may discover that your minor back pain is something more serious than it seems.
You should then consult with an experienced Sioux Falls car accident attorney as soon as possible. Whether you require months of treatment or life-long care (due to a permanent disability), your medical bills will be costly. You may also need to refrain from working or engaging in physical activities during your recovery.
Don't count on the insurance companies to pick up the costs. They're more concerned with reducing their own costs than making sure you receive the care that you need. Let the attorneys at Northern Plains Justice handle your claim for you. Contact us online to schedule your free consultation, or call (605) 306-4100.