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How Long After a Car Accident Should Your Back Hurt?

You can walk away from even a minor car accident and feel discomfort or pain in your back. When the human body absorbs the pressure from any accident, the impact could easily injure your back, even if the collision occurred at a low speed. As anyone who has suffered from back pain will attest, it can drastically alter your ability to do the simplest tasks.  

So yes, back pain could be a normal occurrence after any car accident. If you did sustain a back injury in a collision that was not your fault, you are entitled to seek compensation from the at-fault driver. One of our experienced Philadelphia auto accident attorneys from the Reiff Law Firm discusses back injuries resulting from crashes below. 

Back injuries are serious and you could be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. To discuss your options and rights, call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940. 

Back Injuries from Minor Car Accidents in Pennsylvania

The severity of a car accident does not necessarily determine the type of back injury you could suffer. Your car does not have to flip over for you to have sustained a back injury in a car accident. Insurance companies will usually argue that an accident could not have caused a serious injury if a crash resulted in minor or no real damage to the vehicles involved. However, the truth is that any sudden force or impact could seriously damage your body, especially your back. 

Any rapid deceleration or acceleration could cause your neck to experience whiplash, which could cause injuries to your spine. While whiplash is a temporary condition in many cases, depending on the extent of the damage, a victim in a car accident could require long-term medical treatment. You do not have to be in a serious accident to hurt your back. 

You should not take a car accident lightly, even if it appears minor. If there was little or no damage to your car, you should still seek medical attention – especially if you are experiencing any uncomfortable sensation in your back. You should also be careful about what you say to an insurance adjuster regarding your injuries. It is critical to contact our Bucks County car accident attorneys after any type of car accident if you are feeling any pain in your back. 

How Common is Back Pain After a Pennsylvania Car Accident?

One of the most common symptoms after a car accident is muscle pain. When your body, especially your back, experiences the forces generated in a collision, the muscle fibers stretch and bruise, often resulting in swelling and inflammation. In some cases, this pain is immediate, and a crash victim is in pain from the moment the accident occurs. However, in other situations, this pain might develop over time. The swelling and inflammation could build up and irate the nerves surrounding your spine days after the incident. 

Common Types of Back Injuries From a Pennsylvania Car Accident

A crash victim could experience a variety of back injuries. Depending on the severity of the damage to your back, the injury could result in mild discomfort to a permanent disability. 

Typically, the most painful injuries to the back occur around the thoracic vertebrae or upper back. Connected to the chest and ribs, fractures and sprains in these regions are often the result of more violent crashes and leaves the victim with permanent nerve damage. 

The lower back, or lumbar vertebrae, are protected by the strongest set of muscles in the back. When these muscles are strained, an injured individual could experience constant and significant pain. Any swelling or inflammation in this area will restrict a person’s ability to move or perform everyday activities. In cases of severe damage, an accident victim could become paralyzed. 

Many Pennsylvania car accident victims will suffer a herniated disc. Discs protect the spine by providing cushions between the vertebrae. When a disc is herniated, it applies unwanted pressure on the surrounding nerves of the spinal cord. Generally, a person suffering from this type of injury will experience pain or numbness in their lower back and legs. 

When the spinal cord is injured, a car crash victim could experience everything from slight pain to a long-term and permanent disability. The most serious injuries to car accident victims involve excessive pressure or damage to the spinal cord. Additionally, spinal cord injuries often result in further medical complications, including infections, blood clots, and the leaking of spinal fluids. No matter what type of injury you suffered, you should have our knowledgeable Pennsylvania car accident attorneys representing your legal rights. 

Seeking Medical Treatment After A Car Accident in Pennsylvania

It is important to seek medical attention after any car accident – even a minor one. As stated above, the pressures exerted on the body after any collision could damage your back. Just because you do not feel seriously injured, or only experiencing mild discomfort, it does not mean that a more severe injury has not occurred. You are entitled to seek financial compensation after an accident through a personal injury lawsuit. However, our Pennsylvania car accident attorneys will need documentation and medical evidence that the crash caused your injury to be successful. Any delay in seeking medical treatment could significantly lower your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve. 

Back Injury Diagnosis and Treatments in Pennsylvania

If you have been injured in a car accident, your doctor or another medical professional will examine your back to determine the extent of any damage. They will evaluate your ability to stand, walk, sit, and lift your legs. You should explain what occurred – let any treating physician know you were in a car accident. The forces your body just experienced could have caused an injury or exacerbated a pre-existing condition. Depending on the initial evaluation, your doctor could recommend rest or order a series of more intensive diagnostic tests. This initial examination is critical to protect your health and prepare documentation if you want to pursue a personal injury claim with our Pennsylvania car accident lawyers. 

Commonly Order Diagnostic Tests for Back Injuries

Depending on the severity of your back injury and the pain you are experiencing, your doctor could order a number of tests to better understand the damage. One of the most common tools available is an X-ray. This diagnostic tool allows your doctor to identify a spine misalignment or a bone fracture. For a more detailed look at your spinal column and discs, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could be ordered. If you have had any nerve damage, it should be evident on an MRI. 

There are other more effective tools available to assess the damage to your back. Computer axial tomography, or a CT scan, is often used to identify damage to an accident victim’s spinal cord and discs. Damage to the cartilage or a ruptured disc is another common injury that CT scan will reveal. Furthermore, a CT scan could be paired with an X-ray to accurately measure the degree and density of a fractured vertebra. Additionally, an EMG, or electromyography, will test and confirm if there is any compression of the nerves caused by a narrowing of your spinal column or a herniated disc. 

Non-Surgical Back Injury Treatments Prescribed to Pennsylvania Car Accident Victims

If you have experienced a back injury in a Pennsylvania car accident, your doctor will likely turn to non-invasive and conservative treatments to alleviate your pain and restore movement. You should keep a record of all treatment, so our experienced Pennsylvania car accident attorneys have documentation to use in preparing your claim. 

Medications

One of the first things that will be used to manage your pain is some commonly prescribed medications. Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, are used to reduce swelling and pain in the back. In some situations, your doctor might order prescription strength versions. 

Depending on the severity of your injury and pain, over-the-counter medications might not be enough. To further help reduce your suffering, a muscle relaxer could be prescribed. These medications are effective but cause drowsiness and should be used with care. 

In cases where a victim is experiencing tremendous pain, opioid medications could be used. These types of pharmaceuticals should be used only for a short time and under strict supervision. Opioids are not a viable treatment for lingering or chronic back pain. 

Topical creams, ointments, and lotions could also relieve pain and discomfort when applied directly to the skin. A topical cream could be spread over a large area of skin to relieve a victim’s entire back. 

Injections are also available to help when medication is not working. A cortisone injection around the base of the spine decreases the amount of inflammation around the nerves. Unfortunately, these treatments are not permanent and only provide relief for a short period. If you have been prescribed any medication, you should not deviate from your treatment regimen. Failure to do so will pose additional challenges for our Montgomery car accident lawyers fighting for your just compensation. 

Therapy and Other Physical Back Treatments

In addition to medications, a doctor could recommend physical therapy and exercise to help reduce back pain and improve motion. If you are suffering from soft tissue injuries, such as sprains, strains, or mild tearing of your muscles, tendons, or ligaments, a physician could suggest a combination of physical therapy and guided exercise. For many car accident victims experiencing back pain, physical therapy could help them recover in a month or two. 

There are also some types of alternative treatments that are still non-invasive. However, in many cases, an insurance company might balk at compensating an injured victim for some of these treatments. Nonetheless, alternative treatments such as acupuncture, yoga, and chiropractic care have shown signs of success in alleviating back pain. 

Surgery 

In cases where medications and alternative treatments are ineffective, surgery might be required. Furthermore, some back injuries are so severe that surgery is the primary or only option. 

One type of surgery used to treat a back injury is laminectomy surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon will remove a small part of the damaged vertebrae called the lamina. In addition, the surgeon will remove any damaged disc material that is present, such as cartilage or fluid. By removing this material from the nerve area, the victim will experience relief from their discomfort and pain. 

If the vertebrae are damaged, a surgeon could insert a balloon-like expander between the discs in the affected area. Know as kyphoplasty surgery, this procedure allows the surgeon to stabilize the damaged area and strengthen the vertebrae. 

One of the most minimally invasive surgeries used to treat back pain is endoscopy. The surgeon inserts a small tube equipped with a very small camera into the accident victim’s back. This surgical method allows the treating physician to see and address and compressed or pinched nerves. It also permits the surgeon an opportunity to evaluate the condition of the vertebrae. 

During microdiscectomy surgery, the damaged material pressing up against a victim’s nerves is removed. This procedure often provides immediate relief. 

Some back injuries require spinal fusion or the joining of two or more vertebrae. The surgeon will graft bone tissue from the accident victim or a matching donor to the damaged area. This graft strengthens the victim’s vertebrae as it becomes part of their tissue. 

If the vertebrate is damaged beyond repair, an artificial disk replacement could be performed. During surgery, a damaged disk is replaced with an artificial prosthetic. 

Proving a Back Injury Resulted from a Pennsylvania Car Accident

Claims of neck and back injuries are common in personal injury litigation involving car accidents in Pennsylvania. However, proving back pain remains a pervasive challenge in establishing causation in a personal injury lawsuit. Along with duty of care, breach of duty, and damages, causation is a required element a plaintiff must prove to recover any financial compensation in a personal injury claim. Demonstrating that the accident has caused the alleged back injury and pain is a legal hurdle that every Pennsylvania car accident attorney must overcome. Proving to a judge or jury that an at-fault party’s negligent conduct caused the pain a victim is experiencing requires persuasive and compelling evidence. 

Back pain is a common affliction among adults in the United States. It is estimated that 60% to 80% of people will experience some form of back pain. As individuals age, the potential risk of an aggravating back injury increases. Degenerative conditions occur that affect the discs and joints in the back, along with conditions such as spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis. A person could experience pain and discomfort in their back and neck for various reasons, including ligament and muscle strain, ruptured discs, osteoporosis, arthritis, and other conditions unrelated to a car accident. 

Because there are so many common and underlying reasons people suffer from back pain, it is challenging to link the pain and symptoms an accident victim experiences to a defendant’s negligent conduct. In a personal injury case, objective documentation such as radiographs, MRIs, and CT scans are critical to establishing a link between the injury and the accident. If a plaintiff does not have a history of back pain or has only experienced it on a rare occasion, demonstrating causation could be easier. Part of the proof our experienced Pennsylvania car accident attorneys will typically present is a comparison of the plaintiff’s current condition and their medical history. Unfortunately, with the prevalence of back pain and injuries in the general population, a plaintiff likely has some history of back pain or discomfort. Therefore, it is critical to demonstrate that the current level of pain is distinguished from anything that appears on the plaintiff’s medical history. 

Another form of compelling evidence that is utilized is expert testimony. In fact, expert medical opinions are often crucial in building a personal injury claim involving a back or neck injury. For instance, a plaintiff’s attorney could rely on an orthopedic spine surgeon to provide expert testimony regarding lower back pain, disc herniation, spinal fractures, scoliosis, or other adverse conditions that impact the spine and neck. An accomplished surgeon will explain and evaluate the existence, relevance, treatment, permanency, and prognosis of a back injury. 

Damages Available for a Back Injury Resulting From a Pennsylvania Car Accident

If you suffered a back injury in a Pennsylvania car accident that another party caused, you could be compensated for your economic and non-economic damages. While these damages are available in most personal injury claims, the following few paragraphs will focus on damages that typically relate to a back injury. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the actual, quantifiable out-of-pocket financial losses or expenses someone experiences because of their back injury. One of the most common costs a plaintiff could recover is their medical expenses. Depending on the severity of the damage and the time it took to diagnose, these costs could be significant. Some expenses associated with back injuries include the cost of surgery to address a herniated disc, the expense of diagnostic testing, and physical or occupational therapy. When a back injury results in permanent paralysis, a car accident victim could be looking at a lifetime of medical care, including modifications to their home. 

The severity of an injury will also impact a victim’s ability to return to work. Back pain often lingers, keeping a person out of work for weeks or months. By examining your pay stubs, tax returns, and employment history, a figure could be determined that represents your lost income and any future income you might have lost because of your injury. When someone has suffered a devastating injury, they might not be able to work again. Our Media, PA car accident lawyers will work with financial experts to estimate the income that would have been earned if not for the injury. 

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages differ from economic damages in that they are subjective and cover harm that lacks a definitive dollar value. These are losses someone suffers because of their back injury that lack receipts or bills to prove. 

Pain and suffering is probably the most familiar type of non-economic damages available in a personal injury lawsuit. Every person experiences back pain differently, so placing an exact figure on a plaintiff’s suffering is challenging. One method used is taking a plaintiff’s economic damages and multiplying it by a number between one and five. However, this does not always reflect the true amount of suffering a car accident victim endured – especially if the back pain is chronic and long-lasting. 

Car accident victims often underdo various levels of emotional and mental stress. Not being able to do what you usually could before an accident often results in anxiety, humiliation, insomnia, or other conditions on top of physical pain. 

Some back injuries are so severe, such as in the case of total or partial paralysis, that a victim’s relationship with loved one is permanently and adversely impacted. For example, a devastating back injury could make marital sexual relations impossible. A plaintiff is entitled to financial compensation for these types of losses. 

Our experienced Pennsylvania car accident lawyers will thoroughly review your case to evaluate your potential economic and non-economic damages. 

Call Our Pennsylvania Car Accident Attorneys if You Are Experiencing Any Back Pain or Discomfort After a Collision

The back is a delicate part of your body, and if you damage any part of it, you could suffer painful and long-term medical consequences. Because of the force your body goes through during a car crash, you will likely be experiencing some type of back pain or discomfort. If that is the case, seek medical attention and immediately contact the experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm. Call (215) 709-6940 to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case. 

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