Back Hurts after Car Accident - What to Do
Updated: Feb 23
Most car accidents leave the victim feeling sore and in pain for a while. It's normal, but they expect it to go away in a few days. However, if the injuries are causing pain for more than a week, there could be significant future medical bills to contend with.
Sometimes, the victim doesn't feel the pain immediately after a car crash. However, it can come on strong and instantly. Back pain could be noticed a few days later or right away. It's best not to wave it off because injuries caused by someone's negligence that are left untreated could cause significant problems later.
A traumatic accident could do serious damage to the human body. There could be a nerve injury or intense back pain. If the car accident caused severe pain, immediate medical attention might be required. Sometimes, the injuries resolve on their own, such as with muscle strains. However, auto accidents could cause long-lasting issues. What should a car accident victim do after being injured with back pain that doesn't go away?
When to Get Checked by a Doctor
Most people say they feel okay after an auto accident, but that doesn't mean there aren't underlying issues. The pain might start a few hours or days later. Delayed onset back pain is common and could indicate spinal injuries or a herniated disc. Sometimes, a soft-tissue injury is the culprit.
Immediately following a crash, accident victims might feel sore but otherwise okay. However, the adrenaline wears off, and delayed back pain could present itself within a few days or weeks. That's why it's crucial to get medical care, even if no injury seems present.
Getting medical attention after the accident protects the victim in case the pain gets more severe as time goes on. For example, herniated discs may start off slow and have little pain, but they get worse with time. If the victim waits to seek care after the incident, the insurance company may argue that the symptoms were caused by other activities that came after the collision.
Common Back Pain Types after a Car Accident
The term "back pain" is often used to describe various injuries that could cause pain in the back or neck. Some conditions are ultimately minor and heal with rest and anti-inflammatory medications, but other back injuries might require therapy or surgery.
Pain after a car accident is no joking matter. One might experience any or multiple of the problems below:
As the upper section of the spine, the neck is very vulnerable to injury from an impact. Whiplash is the most common of all neck injuries, and there are 3 million cases reported every year. More than half of them show chronic systems and permanent disability.
Unlike the other car accident injuries, whiplash is a neck injury that's common for low-speed or rear-end collisions. Whiplash can cause pain after a car accident and occurs when the neck gets jolted backward and forward very violently, which results in the whip-like motion. That force stretches or tears the tendons and muscles in the neck, leading to neck pain.
Sometimes, mild whiplash goes away with OTC pain medication, rest, and time. However, severe or moderate cases could cause chronic pain or disability. Treatments for neck pain resulting from whiplash include neck injections, collars, and physical therapy. Sometimes, surgery is necessary.
Degenerative Disc Disease from a Herniated Disc
Degenerative spinal disorders are a group of conditions that focus on one or more of the spinal discs that sit between the vertebrae being pinched, torn, damaged, or deteriorated. This results in intense pain. While degenerative disc disease is often age-related, a traumatic event (serious car accident) could trigger premature degeneration, resulting in a herniated disc or spinal stenosis.
Degenerative disc disease may lead to various health conditions, such as:
Herniated discs (slipped or bulging discs)
A spinal disc injury could lead to discogenic back pain. Overall, discogenic pain is debilitating, sharp, and shooting, and it happens while a person is engaging in activities that irritate the disc. It's often felt in the buttocks, legs, groin, and feet areas.
Experiencing such pain after a car accident often indicates a herniated disc, where the spinal disc pushes through where it shouldn't. Treatment varies based on the condition and ranges from steroids, ice/heat therapy, electrical shock, and pain medicine. However, surgical options like spinal fusion and disc removal (discectomy) might be required.
Muscle Sprains and Strains
The soft tissue includes the ligaments, tendons, and muscles that support the lower back. They're weaved throughout the back from the shoulders to the tailbone. If they're put under stress, the tissues might get injured. The resulting shoulder pain, back pain, and muscle spasms from a torn ligament or pulled back muscle could be quite severe.
A pulled muscle or ligament could take six weeks to heal, and the victim might be in severe pain throughout the process. They may also contend with tense muscles and be unable to hold certain positions or perform specific activities. A medical professional must determine the best treatment plan to reduce pain and let the area heal. Muscle relaxants are often a go-to option, but one must use care while taking them.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The most serious back injuries involve spinal cord damage, which is the bundle of tissues and nerves connecting the brain to the body. The vertebrae in the spine protect the spinal cord, which is part of the central nervous system, from injury.
When a collision results in damage to the spinal discs, there is significant back pain, as well as permanent and long-term consequences. Generally, chronic pain and total or partial paralysis are possible, as are blood clots, infections, spinal fluid leaks, and more.
The back and neck encompass the spine, and it's a complex network of tendons, ligaments, muscles, and vertebrae (33 individual bones). The vertebrae are broken up into four regions:
Cervical spine - The cervical region includes the top seven vertebrae to form the neck. When a car accident victim suffers whiplash, one or more of these cervical bones are affected.
Thoracic spine - The thoracic region includes the 12 vertebrae that make up the upper back. Injuries to this area are often caused by blunt trauma or blunt force. Thoracic injuries, such as thoracic vertebrae fractures, are usually serious because it connects the chest and ribs while protecting vital organs.
Lumbar spine - The lumbar region or lumbar spine is the lower back and includes five vertebrae. These are the largest and strongest bones in the spine, offering stability and support.
Sacral spine - The coccyx and sacrum feature nine vertebrae at the bottom of the spinal canal and are fused to form a solid structure. Broken tailbones are common and can lead to radiating pain.
There are nerve roots (31 pairs) in between the vertebrae sections. Any of them could be affected and cause back pain from automobile accidents.
Facet Joint Spine Injury
Along with the vertebrae, facet joints are a component for a healthy spine. They control movement and support the body's weight. In a sense, they're encased by a flexible membrane that's thick and lubricated with viscous fluid.
Whenever the facet joints are damaged, it's often very painful because of the large concentration of nerve roots that surround the spine and joint. Traumatic events may lead to facet joint disease. That's where the facet joints degenerate.
Overall, facet joint pain can be severe, though non-surgical treatments work well to repair the damaged facet joints. MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans are generally used to find facet joint injuries.
Methods of Dealing with Chronic Pain
It's important to figure out the right pain management solution for back pain. With so many back injury situations, the methods of dealing with pain can take many forms:
The pain management specialist is likely to recommend OTC pain relief medications. They may also prescribe stronger medications that can be used for pain from a stress fracture, compression fracture, or disc herniation.
Physical therapy is usually necessary to help the body back to its pre-injury state.
If the surrounding nerves restrict blood flow enough, minimally-invasive spine surgery might be required to put the bone structure back to the way it was.
What to Do for Back Pain after an Accident
The back and neck are a complex system of nerves, soft tissues, and bones. Many areas can become injured in a car accident. Therefore, it's crucial to get treatment as soon as possible after the crash.
Once the victim is diagnosed and following the doctor's treatment plan, it's best to speak to an attorney who knows how to handle back injury cases. These claims are complicated and may involve soft-tissue injuries and even worse situations.
Record as Many Details as Possible
It's crucial to record as many details as possible about the car accident. Write down information, take pictures, or video record the scene. It might not be possible to do this, depending on how severe the accident was.
Make sure to get the car insurance company information from the other driver and file a police report. That way, the back pain can be listed in the injury case as being from the accident.
Considerations for On-the-job Car Accidents
If the car crash happened while at work, the employer should be required to pay for lost wages and medical expenses. Workers' compensation is a no-fault system, so the victim should get benefits and be covered if the accident occurred while they were working, even if it was considered the victim's fault. However, an exception is if the employee was using drugs or alcohol at the time.
When Is It a Work-related Car Accident?
In most cases, the victim is covered by workers' compensation if they're an employee and were on the clock. However, the car accident must have occurred while they were:
Commuting to/from work and were being compensated by the employer for time travel
Traveling for work without a fixed office
Transporting another employee
Running errands for the employer or boss
Generally, victims aren't allowed to collect worker's compensation benefits for any car accident that happened while they were commuting and accidents that occur during off-the-clock hours, such as during a lunch break. The exception here is if the person was involved in a collision while going to pick up office supplies, grab coffee for the boss, or do anything else that they were specifically requested to do.
Statistics for Work-related Vehicle Accidents
About 40 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are work-related. Therefore, employees who must drive for their jobs are at significant risk of being injured.
Over 27,000 workers in the United States died in work-related crashes from 2003 to 2017.
Car accident victims should note that car accidents are the first and second leading cause of death for every industry group.
Call the Keating Law Firm
Getting into a vehicle accident can be a scary thing. The victim often experiences soft tissue pain, and the back pain can be quite severe.
Overall, personal injury lawyers are here to help the person get the compensation they deserve from the negligent party. This is the person who caused the car crash.
Back injuries are a common cause of severe pain after a car accident, and they shouldn't be taken lightly. Many people feel that they should use the insurance adjusters from the at-fault party. However, they want to keep their money and make a profit. They're less likely to give the victim the right amount of compensation, which is where the Keating Law Firm can assist. They can help get the right settlement for more complicated injuries too, such as a victim experiencing their brain bleed from a car accident.
Overall, the first step is to get medical attention for the pain caused by the vehicle collision. That way, doctors can reduce swelling, lower pain levels, and deal with mobility limitations.
Call to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer in Nashville here. They listen to the situation, determine if the victim has a case, and take the next steps required to get compensation for the client.
They also provide legal assistance for those who caused a borrowed car accident but have no insurance to cover their liabilities.