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Car accidents and associated injuries occur with alarming frequency every day in the United States. Back injuries are one of the most common complaints by people who have been involved in an automobile accident.

Although there are hundreds of possible injuries that can result in back pain, some of the most common injuries and potential symptoms include:

Disc Injuries

A herniated disc (sometimes called a slipped or ruptured disc) is a common back injury that can be attributed to car accidents and other traumatic events.

Discs act as cushions that protect the spinal vertebrae from each other. These discs also help to give the spine resiliency and flexibility. In a car accident, these discs can break or become deformed; destroying the cushioning abilities of the disc.

This can put pressure on nerves which results in pain, numbness, and weakness in various parts of the body influenced by the compressed nerve(s).

When a disc injury occurs in the lower back, a condition known as sciatica can occur. Characterized by shooting pain and numbness (typically in the leg), the pain associated with this condition can be debilitating.

Spinal Cord Injuries

The spinal cord serves as the primary link between the brain and all other parts of the body. During an automobile accident, the impact can damage the fragile nerves within the spinal cord. This damage can result in chronic pain or even paralysis.

Often, spinal cord injuries are categorized as either complete (total numbness and paralysis) or incomplete (some sensation and movement remain). Spinal injuries that affect the upper part of the spine often affect the entire body while injuries of the lower back typically only affect the lower extremities.

Compression Fractures

Compression fractures are especially common in older adults involved in car accidents. Tiny cracks in the spinal column can lead to collapse and deformity of the vertebrae; permanently altering the shape and structure of the spine.

Symptoms may include breathing difficulties, pain, and poor posture. As many as 2/3 of compression fractures are not properly diagnosed as they often appear similar to symptoms typically associated with aging or arthritis.

While these injuries can be very serious, there are a variety of other back injuries that can significantly impair someone’s ability to perform even simple tasks. These injuries involve the ligaments and muscles surrounding the spine and are commonly referred to as “soft tissue injuries.”  Even in low speed collisions, soft tissue is at risk for injury.

The symptoms of these injuries may not appear right away but can result in chronic, sometimes debilitating, back pain if left untreated.

Chiropractic care is an excellent way to address the symptoms commonly associated with back injuries from car accidents.  Most people will benefit from chiropractic care to alleviate the chronic pain many patients experience after a serious back injury and the appropriate referral to other specialists should be made if necessary.

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