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According to the Mayo Clinic, auto and motorcycle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, responsible for more than 35 percent of new spinal cord injuries each year.While car accidents cannot always be prevented, knowing what to do and how to treat a lower back injury can get you back on track after an accident.
After any accident, you should seek medical attention immediately. However, symptoms of back injuries are not always present directly following an accident, so it is also important to enlist the services of a knowledgeable attorney who will ensure that you receive the full compensation for your pain, suffering, and medical bills. The earlier treatment for a back injury begins, the more quickly you can recover.
Spinal fractures resulting from car accidents usually occur in the mid to low back. If a fracture is suspected, EMS workers will immobilize you with a backboard and cervical neck collar before moving you. A physician will conduct a physical exam, imaging tests such as x-rays or MRI, and neurological tests to determine whether there is a spinal cord or nerve injury.
Treatment of a spinal fracture depends on the type and severity of the fracture. Compression fractures may be treated by wearing a brace for 6 to 12 weeks, gradually increasing activity, and doing exercises that help with rehabilitation. If bones can be fit back together, extension fractures may also be treated with a cast or brace, but if the fracture results in instability, surgery will likely be necessary. Both surgery and rehabilitation can be a painful process and become quite costly.
A herniated disc in the lumbar spine puts pressure on spinal nerve roots, and can cause pain, tingling, weakness and numbness in the lower back or legs. The bones that form the spine are cushioned by spongy discs which act as shock absorbers and keep the spine flexible.
An injury may cause minute tears or cracks in the hard outer layer of this disc, causing the thick gel inside to be forced out. The disc then will bulge or break open. Treatment of lumbar herniated discs may include physical therapy, pain medications, or as a last resort, surgery. Your doctor may also recommend a short period of recuperation or reduced activity with a gradual increase in activity over time.
Muscle sprains and strains can also result from car accidents. For pain and muscle spasms, pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, or muscle relaxers can help. Cold packs also reduce inflammation, and heat therapy can help with healing by relaxing the muscles and stimulating blood flow to the injured area.
Managing pain and inflammation may also allow you to perform back exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles. Avoiding the use of painful muscles can weaken the muscles that support the back and may cause more pain. Performing the recommended exercises can help to reduce tightness in the muscles and help strengthen the supporting muscles.
If you suffer a lower back injury from a car accident, seek treatment immediately and follow all instructions given to you by your doctor. Following instructions and being an active participant in your recovery can make a big difference in your recovery time and improve your quality of life. The pain and financial stress that can occur after an accident can take a toll on your body and mind, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Experienced accident attorneys can assist you during this difficult and traumatic time, allowing you to focus on getting better.
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