Injuries to the back from motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, slip and fall accidents, and others can range in severity from painful sprains and strains to fractured vertebrae, herniated discs, and paralyzing spinal cord injuries.
Sprain or Strain
Your back is formed from a column of vertebrae that protect the spinal cord, ligaments that keep the bones together, and tendons that join the muscles to bones. Strain and a sprain affect these soft tissues when your back is stretched past its normal range of motion: a sprain affects the ligaments; a strain affects the muscles and tendons. Sprains and strains cause tissues to become inflamed and painful and may persist for months. Back sprains and strains usually respond to conservative treatment eventually, but they can make life miserable for a long time. Untreated, back strains and sprains can get worse over time, causing increased pain and limitation in movement. Treatments include rest, icing, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. In the worst cases, surgery may be recommended.
In between the vertebrae—the bones that form your spinal column and provide the main support for your body—are discs, filled with a jelly-like material. The human spine contains are twenty-three discs: six in the neck, or cervical spine; twelve in the middle back, or thoracic spine; and five in the lower back, or lumbar spine. Their function is to create a cushion between the vertebrae, keeping them in place. A herniated disc is one that bulges out of its usual place or ruptures, often pressing on a nerve, which can be extremely painful.
When a herniated disc is in the lower back or lumbar spine, it causes pain that radiates from the back through the buttocks and into the legs. When it is in the neck or cervical spine, the pain radiates from the neck into the shoulders and upper arms. Tingling, numbness, weakness, and muscle spasms are all symptoms of a herniated disc. Conservative treatment includes rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy. Sometimes surgery is necessary, usually involving the removal of the disc and fusion of the vertebrae.
When a vertebra is fractured, bone fragments can pinch or irritate the spinal nerves or spinal cord. Most spinal fractures are caused by car accidents, falls, gunshot wounds, or sports. Fractures can vary in severity and can cause symptoms ranging from pain to bowel and/or bladder changes to paralysis. Although some fractures heal with conservative treatment, serious fractures usually require surgery to realign the bone fragments. Without prompt treatment, unstable fractures can permanently damage the spinal cord.
In a dislocation, the ligaments of the back are stretched or torn, causing misalignment of the vertebrae.
Fracture-dislocations involve broken bone together with torn ligaments are torn ligaments. These fractures are usually unstable. Because they threaten the spinal cord, they usually require surgery.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is composed of nerve tissue. Its function is to relay messages from the brain throughout body. When the nerves of the spinal cord are damaged, paralysis below the damaged area can result in paraplegia or quadriplegia.
Legal Representation for Back Injuries
If you’ve suffered a back injury in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you will often be able to recover compensation for your injury. At Abronson Law in Los Gatos, California, we have extensive experience handling back injury claims, from sprains and strains through the most devastating spinal cord injuries. We offer a free consultation, and we take cases on a contingency agreement, so you never pay attorneys fees unless we win. Call for an appointment today.
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