Understanding Neck and Back Injuries that Commonly Follow Auto Accidents

By: Matthew Tievsky

Injury can follow an auto accident, even at low speeds, and even when there is little or no visible damage to your car. (Your car is made of metal and is designed to withstand a crash; you are not!) And probably the most common form of injury that results from an auto accident, is a neck or back injury.

back injury

Neck and back injuries are generally injuries to the area of the spine, the long series of bones that runs from the base of your neck down to your tailbone. The spine is divided into three sections: cervical (neck); thoracic (upper to middle back); and lumbar (lower back).

A less serious form of back injury is a "sprain" or "strain" -- for example, a "cervical strain," which is a strain to the muscles surrounding the cervical spine. This means the muscles have been overstretched, and perhaps even torn. Strains and sprains usually, but NOT always, heal after a matter of months. The defense often likes to argue that because most strains and sprains heal within that period of time, you cannot possibly be in pain as long as a year or more. Of course, that isn't logical and it isn't true. Indeed, some strains or sprains last years, or even forever, sadly.

A generally more serious type of injury is a "disk bulge" or "disk herniation." As I wrote above, the spine is a series of bones. These bones do not directly touch. Instead, they are separated by jelly-like "disks," which keep the spine flexible. If a disk is pushed out of alignment by trauma, the disk may bulge or, more seriously, the disk may be herniated. A disk injury often causes more than just back pain. Because there are nerves that run down the spine and to your extremities (your arms and legs), a disk injury may cause symptoms that run into your extremities. For example, if you suffer a back injury, and now you are experiencing numbness, tingling, or pain shooting down your legs, this is a sign of a disk injury. It is very important to bring this to the attention of your doctor. Your doctor may decide that you back needs an MRI, which is a diagnostic scan to test for a disk injury.

If you suspect that you have suffered an injury in an automobile collision that was not your fault, you should contact a Northern Virginia personal injury attorney at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.