There are plenty of ways that you can injure your back, from tripping and falling to repetitive strain injuries to being in a car accident in Newark, NJ. While there are plenty of ways to hurt your back, some injuries are more common than others. It helps to familiarize yourself with these, as you will be better prepared if you get injured, including what to expect from diagnosis and treatment.
Fractured vertebrae can be straightforward or more serious. Burst fractures, for example, occur if the fracture includes bone exploding out from the spine and entering the tissues around it. In this case, the bone could enter the spinal cord or nerves. On the other end of the spectrum, compression fractures occur if the bone gets pushed together and collapses on itself. The worst type of fracture would be a fracture-dislocation. The bone breaks outward, but the ligaments also tear, causing the bones to slip and separate. These can occur during a car accident, something that causes 20 to 50 million non-lethal injuries annually.
Fractured vertebrae commonly lead to pain and a limited range of motion. Most treatments will start with medicines, rest, physical therapy, and icing. They may also include visiting the chiropractor, steroid injections, or even surgery.
Herniated discs are also common back injuries and associated with pain. The pain, however, is not usually from the disc not being in its proper spot. Instead, the pain comes from the fact that the herniated disc leads to pinched nerves nearby. These pinched nerves typically lead to radiating pain. For example, the pain may start in your neck and travel down your arm or start in your lower back, radiating down your leg.
Strains and Sprains
Strains or sprains occur if you overstretch your back’s muscles or tear one of your ligaments. In either case, the injury results in inflammation around the area. That inflammation is not only painful but leads to back spasms. Those spasms add pain, sometimes severe pain, and make it hard to move. Essentially, the spasms immobilize your muscles in the area, a reaction that may have evolved to prevent further injury. Other symptoms of strains and sprains include swelling and bruising. In some cases, there may be a tearing or popping sound at the time of the injury.
The initial treatment for strains and sprains usually focuses on rest and icing the area. You may also have to wear a bandage to compress the area and keep everything in place or take medicines. Later on, you may see a physical therapist or chiropractor or do certain light exercises.
When Back Pain Indicates an Injury That Needs Attention
All of the above conditions lead to back pain, which may be your first indication that something is wrong. Whether your injury is from a car accident or another cause in Newark, NJ, you want to go to the doctor if your pain or injury meets any of the following requirements:
- The pain has lasted for over four or six weeks
- The pain wakes you up from deep sleep
- The pain gets worse
- The pain is after an accident (including a car accident)
- There is numbness in the buttocks, genital area, groin area, or upper inner thighs
Remember that severe back injuries can occur due to car accidents or other high-energy situations, like playing contact sports or falling from a significant height. There is also a higher risk of severe injury if it penetrates, is a direct blow to your spine from an object in motion, or any blow that delivers a lot of force to your spine.