Back injuries are among the most common health problems caused by car accidents. Although not typically life-threatening, back problems brought on by traffic collisions can be intensely painful, long-lasting, and difficult to treat.
Almost any kind of traffic accident can lead to back problems. Rear-end collisions tend to cause whiplash type injuries to the upper back. Side and frontal collisions, which almost always occur at a slight angle, often cause the spine to wrench and twist. That can lead to painful muscle injuries in the lower back as well potentially fracturing vertebrae. Symptoms like back stiffness and back pain don’t always begin immediately. They can take a day or two to set in, and may not seem severe until much later than that.
Back problems can also occur as secondary injuries brought on by an injury incurred in a traffic accident. People tend to compensate for injuries to their limbs by relying more on their core strength, which may overtax the back. For example, an accident victim with a broken leg might strain his back weeks later while trying to find a more comfortable position for his leg.
Regardless of the type of accident that caused them, back injuries can linger for months. Broken arms and ankle sprains are relatively easy to treat by immobilizing the affected part of the body. People use their spines for virtually every kind of motion, so isolating the injured area is impossible in most cases. As a result, people with accident-related back trouble often face a tortuous journey back to heath with multiple recurrences of the initial injury.
Severe back pain can be completely debilitating. In extreme cases, sufferers can be confined to bed and require constant care for weeks or months. In more mild cases, patients may find it impossible to go to work or even attend family functions. Even after making a full recovery, back patients are vulnerable to relapses because their muscles atrophy due to underuse. That makes regular visits with a physical therapist essential for people with back problems due to traffic accidents.