Back pain is the top reason employees miss work. And about 8% of American adults report suffering from chronic back pain that limits their activities.
Back pain often results from trauma from accidents. An accident can leave you with a back injury ranging from muscle strain to a life-threatening vertebral fracture.
Below, you will learn about the causes and effects of a back injury and what you can do to collect compensation for a back injury.
What Is the Structure of Your Back?
Your back has to perform many functions. It protects the organs of your chest and abdomen from injuries. It must support the weight of your head and thorax and transfer the weight to your hips so you can stand and walk. And it provides the strength and flexibility to bend and twist your body.
Your spine provides structure, strength, and stability to your back. The spine includes 24 individual vertebrae. These vertebrae allow your spine to articulate while still supporting your weight.
Seven vertebrae in your neck form your cervical spine. Another 12 vertebrae connected to your ribs form your thoracic spine. Five vertebrae above your hips form your lumbar spine.
Each vertebra has a solid body with thin processes extending away from it. The vertebral bodies stack on top of each other to form a strong and stable spinal column. The spinous process creates the bumpy ridge you can feel running up your back.
Ligaments attach to the vertebrae to hold them in position. Intervertebral discs rest between each pair of vertebrae. These discs provide a strong but elastic cushion for your vertebrae.
The discs have a strong outer ring of cartilage and collagen. This annulus protects a springy, gel-like inner nucleus.
Movement and strength of your back come from the back muscles. These muscles anchor through tendons to your spinous process, shoulder blades, ribs, hips, and skull.
This bundle of nerves passes through a gap between the body and the processes of each vertebra. These gaps align to form the spinal canal.
What Can Cause a Back Injury?
Back injuries often result from accidental trauma. This trauma can come in a few different forms, including:
Penetrating Back Injury
A penetrating back injury happens when something causes an open wound in your back. A penetrating back injury could happen in a traffic accident while walking or biking because of the lack of protection in pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents.
For example, suppose a car hits you while riding your bike, and you fall into a traffic sign. The signpost could cause an open wound in your back.
Penetrating back injuries can damage soft tissue and nerves. The open wound of a penetrating back injury can bleed. It can also get infected, complicating your recovery.
Blunt Force Back Injury
Blunt force back injuries happen when your back impacts something without causing an open wound. A blunt force back injury can happen in a slip and fall accident when your back strikes the ground. These types of injuries can also happen in an elevated fall.
Blunt force back injuries can fracture bones and stretch muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They can also crush and deform the spinal discs.
A hyperextension injury happens when the spine stretches beyond its normal length. These injuries can stretch or tear soft tissue in your back. When your vertebrae compress back into position, they can damage your discs.
Hyperextension injuries are common in car accidents. As your body and head twist and bend in a car crash, your spine expands and compresses. These forces can damage your spine and back muscles.
What Are Some Examples of a Back Injury?
Back injuries can come in many different forms depending on the body parts you injured in your accident. Some examples of back injuries include:
A fractured vertebra can threaten your life. If you fracture a vertebra in your neck, the bone fragments can sever your spinal cord. Your lungs and heart could no longer receive signals from your brain, causing them to stop functioning.
A fractured vertebra can also cause nerve damage or a spinal cord injury. When a vertebral body fractures, the bone fragments can migrate into your spinal canal. When a spinous process fractures, ligaments no longer hold the vertebra in place, and it can dislocate. In either case, the spinal cord can get severed or compressed.
When a disc gets compressed, it can deform. If the annulus separates and allows the nucleus to protrude, you have a herniated disc. If the annulus weakens and bulges, you have a bulging disc.
A damaged disc will cause back instability because it cannot support the vertebra above it. It can also cause nerve pain as the deformed disc presses on nerve roots branching off your spinal cord.
Strained or Sprained Back
A strain happens when your back muscles or the tendons anchoring them get stretched or torn. A sprain happens when you stretch or tear the ligaments holding your spine together. These injuries cause similar symptoms, including pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
A back strain or sprain can heal on its own without surgery. Your doctor will probably prescribe rest, ice packs, and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the swelling.
How Do You Get Compensation for a Back Injury?
A back injury could be a cause for a compensation claim if it resulted from someone else’s negligence.
You must prove that the other person failed to exercise reasonable care to get compensation. You must also prove that the failure caused your injury. Thus, in a car accident, you must show that the other driver drove in an unreasonably hazardous way and that the driver’s actions caused a car accident.
If you can prove negligence, you can seek compensation for your economic and non-economic damages. These losses include your medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering.
A back injury can cause severe pain that disables you from working and affects you whether you sit, stand, or lie down. Contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss your back injury and legal options for seeking accident compensation, call us at (314) 444 4444.