Common back & spine injuries caused by car accidents

A doctor explaining lumbar anatomy to back pain

The jolting impact of a car accident can do a lot of damage to the human body, especially to a person's back and spine. Undoubtedly, back and spine injuries are among the most common injuries sustained by crash victims, often resulting in extreme pain and discomfort.

Even at low speeds, any kind of motor vehicle crash has the potential to cause a back or spine injury that leaves you incapacitated, out of work, and struggling to participate in regular activities.

Back pain after a car accident

The three sections of the human spine are the lower back (lumbar vertebrae), upper back (thoracic vertebrae), and neck (cervical vertebrae).

Each of these areas, including the muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs, and nerves that surround the vertebrae (the small bones that make up your backbone), are all susceptible to injury in the event of a traffic collision.

Back and spine injuries from a car accident cover a wide range. At Island Musculoskeletal Care MD, PC, some of the most common back and spine injuries we treat include:

  • Herniated disc - There are cushion-like discs that lie between your vertebrae and absorb pressure to protect every section of your spine. A herniated disc - also referred to as a bulging disc, ruptured disc, or slipped disc - happens when the protective outer layer of the disc ruptures and the gel-like fluid from inside protrudes and presses on a nerve (or the spinal cord itself). Common in the lower back and neck, a herniated disc may cause a dull ache or intense pain, numbness in the legs, tingling, and a burning sensation that radiates throughout the body.
  • Lumbar spine injury - Located in the lower back and made up of the five largest and strongest vertebrae (L1-L5), the lumbar spine provides stability and support. A lumbar spine injury occurs when the vertebrae are fractured or the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the region are strained or sprained. Damage to the lumbar spine may result in bruising, swelling, tenderness, and moderate to severe pain that intensifies with movement.
  • Thoracic spine injury - The thoracic spine, which consists of 12 vertebrae that run from the middle of your back to your upper back, connects to your rib cage and chest region. Injuries to this section of the spine are usually severe, as a fracture can also damage the nerves of the spine. Common symptoms of a thoracic spine fracture include severe pain in your back, legs, and arms, along with numbness and instability.
  • Spondylolysis┬á - Stress fractures in the vertebrae (spondylolysis) that aren't treated soon enough can develop into a serious injury called spondylolisthesis where the vertebrae are displaced and moved out of alignment in your spinal column, resulting in severe lower back pain.
  • Spinal cord injury - It takes a considerable amount of pressure and force to damage the spinal cord, which is why these types of injuries are considered the most serious. An injury to the spinal cord may result in total or partial paralysis, loss of sensation in parts of the body, and the absence of reflex function.

Get the treatment you need from a NYC orthopedic surgeon

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of serious back and spine injuries, so if you were involved in a crash, you may need to see a bone doctor. Keep in mind that due to New York's "no-fault" car insurance rules, you typically need to turn to your own insurance policy first to cover the cost of your medical treatment.

Once you notify your insurance carrier of your accident and receive a claim number, bring the claim number, date of your accident, date of birth, and your insurance carrier's name to your first visit. From there, we will bill your insurance carrier for any treatment you receive as a result of your crash.

To ensure you receive the no-fault benefits you're entitled to, it's critical that you move through the process as promptly as possible. If you or a loved one suffered a back or spine injury in a car accident and want to make an appointment, contact us today. We have seven offices located in New York City and Long Island, including The Bronx, Brooklyn, Deer Park, Patchogue, Queens, Shirley, and Valley Stream.

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