Neck and lower back pain are common complaints after car accidents. Neck pain may be caused by whiplash, while lower back pain may be caused by an injury to the bones and discs in the spinal column. It’s important to see a doctor to get the right diagnosis and treatment.
Our necks and spines weren’t designed to withstand the impact of a modern car accident. They can easily be damaged, even when the cars weren’t moving at high speeds. These neck and back injuries can lead to chronic, severe pain, and they may require surgery to correct.
What are some of the most common reasons for neck and back pain after an accident?
The type of neck or back injury you suffer will depend on your own body and health and the way the accident happened. Some of the most common neck and back injuries include these:
- Whiplash. Whiplash is a neck injury that often causes severe pain. It occurs when an impact causes the head and neck to “whip” suddenly backward and forward. Whiplash is most common after rear-end collisions. Its symptoms include neck and shoulder pain, a reduced range of motion, headaches, and tingling and numbness in the arms.
- Strains and sprains. Lower back pain can be caused by pulled, or strained, muscles. Or there may be a lumbar strain in which the ligaments in your back are torn or stretched. You may have muscle spasms, or your muscles may feel cramped and tender.
- Herniated, or “slipped” discs. The discs between your spine bone are filled with a cushiony, jelly-like substance. When a disc ruptures due to a car accident, the center filling leaks out, like jelly being squeezed from a donut. This can cause the disc to put pressure on nerves, leading to neck or back pain.
- Spinal stenosis. An accident can cause the vertebrae to become misaligned, or a piece of bone can break off. Spinal stenosis may cause severe pain in the back, arms and legs; numbness; weakness and cramps. Stenosis can occur in the neck or in the lower back.
What should I do for neck and lower back pain?
Because there are many possible causes of pain, it is important to see a doctor right away for an accurate diagnosis. Many neck and back injuries are serious and will not go away on their own. The doctor may ask you questions about your symptoms and check your pain level and ability to move. He or she may order x-rays, CT scans or MRIs.
If you can’t see a doctor right away, there are a few things you can do:
- Use ice or heat on the injured area. Ice is usually recommended to reduce swelling in the first couple of days after an accident. After that, heat is usually suggested. Apply ice or heat for about 15 minutes at a time, 3-6 times a day.
- Take over the counter pain relievers. NSAID pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with inflammation as well as pain.
- Don’t wear a neck brace for long periods of time. If worn for more than a few hours, neck braces weaken muscles and slow down recovery.
- Wait for your doctor’s recommendations before starting any exercise program. Your doctor may give you a set of exercises to do at home or may refer you to a physical therapist.
Finally, take the time to talk to a car accident lawyer around Atlanta Georgia. Neck and back pain can indicate a serious, long-term injury, and you may have a right to recover money from the driver who was at fault.
A lawyer can answer your questions, explain how the process works, and refer you to doctors who can give you a complete evaluation and tell you what you will need to heal. A lawyer can handle your claim from start to finish, relieving you of stress and often getting much more money than you would have received on your own.
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Our law firm’s only goal is to help accident victims get the money they need and deserve. We don’t charge you anything unless we win you money. Let us give you a free, no obligation consultation to answer your questions and help you plan what to do next. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.