Back injuries can lead to chronic pain, disability, and reduced quality of life.
These injuries come in many forms. Depending on the type of trauma, a back injury may affect the bones, muscles, ligaments, and/or nerves.
Some people are at a higher risk of suffering back pain due to issues like poor posture, age, or osteoporosis. An acute injury from a car accident or frequent lifting, bending, or twisting at work can worsen an existing condition or lead to a new injury.
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What are the Most Common Back Injuries?
The back is composed of many muscles, nerves, discs, and vertebrae. Back injuries are not one specific injury but rather include any harm that occurs to one of these parts of the back. The following are the most common back injuries:
Strains and Sprains
These injuries can be caused by overstretching a muscle or tearing a ligament, which causes surrounding muscles to become inflamed. This can lead to back spasms, severe pain, and limited mobility.
Herniated or Bulging Disc
When a spinal disc is herniated, it means the soft inner material of the disc is pushing or leaking out of the harder exterior of the disc. This can pinch or irritate a nearby nerve in the spine. Spinal discs can also slip out of place between vertebrae, irritating surrounding nerves.
Herniated discs can be asymptomatic, but they can also lead to extreme pain, weakness, and numbness. There are limited options for treating a herniated disc without introducing new problems. The injury may be treated with physical therapy, medication, and sometimes surgery.
A vertebra can be fractured due to a compression fracture, when the bone collapses, or a burst fracture – when the bone explodes outward and may damage the spinal cord or nerves. Vertebral fractures can be incredibly painful and limit mobility.
Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury happens when the spinal cord or nerves of the cauda equina are damaged – usually due to external trauma. A spinal cord injury usually results in permanent changes to bodily functions, sensation, strength, and mobility below the injury site.
This condition happens when a nerve is compressed in the spine and causes weakness, numbness, and pain. Sciatica is a common type of radiculopathy.
Spinal stenosis is a common issue in which the spaces within the spine narrow, putting pressure on nerves traveling through the spine. It frequently occurs in the neck and lower back. Spinal stenosis is often caused by age-related degeneration, but jobs that require frequent heavy lifting and manual labor can also cause or contribute to this condition.
What are the Long-Term Consequences of a Back Injury?
Lower back pain is one of the most common health complaints among adults. Between 60 and 80% of people will experience low back pain at some point in their life and seek treatment. About 90% of all patients stop consulting their doctor within a month, and nearly 80% recover enough to return to work in around six weeks. However, many are left with chronic or life-long back pain.
While many injuries are painful at first but allow you to make a full recovery, back injuries often become a source of chronic pain.
Even with treatment, back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide that may cause:
- Chronic pain that limits activities
- Dependence on opioid painkillers or increased medication use
- Increased visits to healthcare professionals
- Painful and invasive treatments
- Depression and other mental health issues
Sadly, back injuries like spinal fractures and herniated discs are difficult to treat, and many never really heal. This can have life-long consequences.
What Causes Back Injuries?
Some back injuries happen slowly over time due to frequent lifting, twisting, and manual labor. Other back injuries are the result of an acute injury, such as an accident. These injuries can also be caused by health conditions.
Slip and Fall Accidents
While many slip and fall accidents lead to minor injuries, a slip or fall accident can be serious enough to damage the spinal cord, cause a painful back sprain, or damage a spinal disc. These accidents can also worsen an existing condition and cause more severe pain and even disability.
One of the most common causes of back injuries is Traffic accidents. The force generated in even a fairly low-speed accident can be devastating to the spine’s sensitive structure.
The jerking motion at impact, twisting motions when struck from the side, or direct blow to the back or neck can cause a range of back injuries:
- Herniated disc or damage to the spinal discs
- Lumbar sprains when muscles, ligaments, and tendons stretch too much
- Sciatica and pinched nerves due to inflammation
- Vertebral fractures
A car accident can also worsen an existing condition or cause new symptoms. Conditions that can be worsened by an accident include spinal osteoporosis, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, and more.
More than 1 million workers in the U.S. sustain a back injury on the job every year. Back injuries are also responsible for one out of every five workplace injuries. Back injuries can result from many types of workplace accidents, such as construction accidents and work-related truck accidents.
Most back injuries on the job are caused by twisting, lifting, pushing, or pulling. These injuries can be acute or happen over time.
Sadly, the medical professionals you trust to help you feel better can be responsible for an injury that leaves you with chronic pain or worsening health. Back injuries may occur due to surgical errors, particularly back surgery mistakes. During back surgery, a tiny error can cause life-changing nerve damage or even paralysis.
Types of Compensation Available for a Back Injury
After sustaining a back injury, you may be left out of work as your medical bills keep climbing. Back injuries often come with extensive financial repercussions that may follow you for years. This financial burden should not be on you if your accident occurred on the job or was caused by someone else’s negligence.
Through a personal injury lawsuit, you may be entitled to many forms of compensation, such as:
- Medical expenses, including anticipated medical bills in the future related to your injury
- Lost wages for time you needed to take off work
- Disability or reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If your injury occurred on the job, you might qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. This no-fault system allows you to recover benefits for medical bills and lost wages. If your employer does not have a workers’ compensation insurance policy, you may still be eligible for damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
Contact a Fort Worth Personal Injury Lawyer
After suffering a back injury, you may be facing chronic pain, painful treatments, and an inability to work and even enjoy your hobbies. Jason Stephens of Stephens Law Firm, PLLC is here to help you fight for the compensation you deserve as you struggle to move on with your life.