What kind of Back Injuries can you sustain from a Car Accident?

No matter how safely you tend to drive, there is always a chance to end up in a car accident. Approximately 38,000 people in the United States pass away due to motorway accidents annually. An average American tends to crash his/her car 4-5 times in their entire lifetime, so the likelihood of getting injured also increases proportionately. Not all accidents that occur are fatal, but it is possible to sustain injuries (both major or minor) if you are part of one. One of the most common types of injuries that arise after car accidents are back injuries. Back injury from car accident can be very painful. In this article, we have classified various categories of back injuries and ways to treat them.

Back injury from car accident

Severe back pains can be the cause of irregularity in the spinal cord. The backbone, which contains the spinal cord, has discs made of cartilage that aid in mobility and motion. If one of these is disturbed due to trauma, it can cause immense discomfort, which is referred to as discogenic pain. Many people experience this pain in their lower back, and to diagnose the root cause accurately, it is important to get medical attention as soon as possible after the accident so the treatment can begin. There can be further classifications of the types of back injuries from car accident.

Disc Herniation

In this injury, pain arises in the lower back when the disc’s delicate inner material swells up, pushing against the outer surface, which is lined with nerves. This leads to pain and numbness in the lower back area and can cause a lot of distress. Herniated disc injury goes by many other names such as ruptured or slipped disc, but they are referred to as the same injury.

Whiplash injury

This is the most common injury arising from accidents like head-on and rear-end collisions. It can prove to be severe in many situations leaving the muscles, nerves, and ligaments in the neck heavily damaged. In critical accidents like these, the neck and back face a lot of strain as the body tries to hold back from being thrust forward during the collision. Depending on the crash’s intensity, symptoms start appearing sooner or later and can include pain, dizziness, exhaustion, and hazy vision.

Whiplash injuries can scale from moderate to extreme levels, but they can be treated gradually with consistent physical therapy.

Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis occurs when the passage from which the spinal cord and nerves pass through constricts significantly. Generally, it is a damaged disc or bone piece that takes up the spinal cord place, causing discomfort by compressing the nerves or the cord.

Spinal stenosis can arise due to old age as well, but trauma can cause it to emerge at a young age. Consulting a spinal specialist can help you go through the treatment options you may have.

Lumbar fractures

The lumbar vertebrae, present in the lower back, are prone to sprains when a person lifts excessive weights or is involved in a car accident. This causes muscles in the back to overstretch, causing sprains. It is often not easy to detect these kinds of fractures, and consulting a doctor for proper diagnosis is recommended.

Disc degeneration disease

Degeneration of spinal discs is a very common condition that occurs to almost every person with increasing age. The spinal discs start weakening gradually due to bearing support throughout your lifetime. Under normal circumstances, this is not a painful process unless it compresses the nerves, but the scenario might be different if it is the consequence of a road accident. The degeneration may occur at a faster rate leading to extensive pain and suffering.

Facet joint syndrome

The spinal cord comprises multiple joints that are surrounded by cartilage, which allows smooth movement and flexibility of the back. If the impact of the collision affected your back, facet joint disease could occur, making your joints degenerate. When this happens, the pain will be felt in the affected area but can spread elsewhere as the joints push against the surrounding nerves. Some common symptoms of facet joint syndrome are:

  • Inflammation of backbone
  • Pain spreading from the inflamed area to other areas of the body
  • Immense lower back pain
  • Pain in performing certain movements such as bending or leaning
  • Sensitivity in some areas of the spinal cord

How to treat back injuries from car accident?

While back injuries are most common in head-on and rear-end collisions, they also occur very frequently in sideswipe, and T-bone crashes as the car’s body is not as strong from the side as from the front. In some cases, the person gets thrown out of the car, causing some serious injuries. There are various ways to help speed up the recovery from such injuries if you are consistent enough.

Physical therapy 

Physical therapy is one of the finest ways to treat your injury orally. It is a slow process, but it yields great results with time. A physiotherapist aids the patients to perform movements to reduce pain in the back and neck by doing various exercises. He/she will also give the patient exercises to practice at home regularly so they can restore their mobility as soon as possible. In most cases, patients manage to recover a considerable range of their movements before the accident, if not all, which is why this is considered an effective method of treatment.

Chiropractic care

This type of treatment is quite similar to physiotherapy, but there are a few differences in operation methods. While the therapist uses different massage techniques and therapies, a chiropractor manually uses his or her hands to examine and adjust the spine area where limited movement is found. No abrasive drugs are used, and your body will feel instant relaxation after a chiropractor session. Chiropractic therapy addresses the pain at the root of the problem and heals the injury, avoiding long-term agony.

Surgical treatment

Deciding to get surgery is often a big decision because, in most cases, it is not needed, but if you are in continuous excruciating pain, you should consider it. Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET) is one surgery method where the fibers around the tear are sterilized, which numbs the nerve endings permanently. Once this is done, the discogenic pain will fade away.

Before opting for this treatment method, be sure to consult your doctor to see if you really need it and avoid future problems.

Taking prescribed medicines

 Taking medicines for mild discogenic back pain is a good option to reduce the pain. Medications such as ibuprofen and antidepressants effectively help ease the pain (Consult your doctor for the right dose and prescription for you). There are other non-surgical ways to treat this discogenic pain, such as steroid and epidural injections. If all these methods do not prove to be effective, then surgery may as well be the best option for you. (Consult a doctor.)

Receiving compensation for injuries caused 

Dealing with a back injury from car accident requires patience as the treatment will be a slow process. Meanwhile, receiving compensation for your injuries is also your right and should be availed of as soon as possible.
You are entitled to receive compensation for all your medical bills, doctor’s appointments, or other additional costs you had to pay for during your treatment.
Other instances of receiving compensation can be:

● Any emotional distress you faced throughout your treatment.
● Facing salary cuts, losing your job, not being able to work again, or switching to a much lower-paying job because of the injury
● Any suffering and pain you had to withstand because of the injury.


Being involved in a car crash is a hectic and unfortunate situation, especially if the occupant sustained serious injury. Whether it was the spinal cord that was injured or any other organ of the body, it should be treated adequately, and medical attention should be received immediately after the accident. Surgical and non-surgical methods can treat these injuries, and they should be selected with proper consultation from a specialized doctor. Adequate compensation should also be demanded from the other party for your suffering and fulfilling your damages. A lawyer can help choose the right doctor for your treatment and handle your car accident case and deal with the compensation issues.