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Can even a minor car accident result in chronic back pain?

Chronic Back Pain

Even if you drive cautiously, there is no guarantee that other drivers will do the same. You might be a responsible driver, but in reality, figures show that most drivers will be involved in 3-4 crashes throughout their lives. While many crashes that occur are relatively minor, they can still cause spinal injuries that result in chronic back pain.

Chronic back pain can be the result of an injury to the spine or soft tissue in the back. This often occurs when the impact of a crash throws the spine out of alignment or causes the muscles, tendons and ligaments to overstretch or tear.

Whiplash is the most common cause of back pain after a crash

Whiplash can occur in a rear-end or frontal collision when the head jerks backward and forward rapidly. The soft tissue in the neck becomes overstretched and sometimes torn. While whiplash typically affects the cervical spine and neck, it often causes upper back pain and muscle spasms. Other common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Loss of mobility in the neck and shoulders
  • Tingling and burning in the arms
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Disorientation and dizziness

Whiplash symptoms generally appear within a few days and improve within 2-3 months with the right treatment and rest. This condition can linger much longer depending on the severity of the injury and the condition of the person who sustained it.

Other causes of chronic back pain after a crash

Other common causes of chronic back pain after a crash include:

  • Injuries to the muscles. A muscle strain or tear can occur when the impact of a crash causes trauma or overstretching. An injury to the back muscles can cause debilitating pain and spasms.
  • Herniated or slipped disc. The impact of a crash can sometimes cause the gel-like discs between the spinal vertebrae to rupture or become dislodged. This then puts pressure on the nerves in the spine and causes pain and weakness. A herniated or slipped disc can also cause sciatica, which is nerve pain that radiates down the legs and into the feet.
  • Vertebrae fractures. The small bones that make up the spine are known as the vertebrae. These can become fractured from the impact of a crash and cause serious back pain.
  • Spinal stenosis. This condition is the result of bone spurs that can develop from an injury to the spine. When bone spurs develop, they can cause narrowing of the spinal canal and pressure on spinal nerves.

Why should I see a doctor after my crash?

You may not always feel pain immediately after being involved in a crash. Injuries to the back and spine often take several days to fully manifest and can get worse if they're not treated. Your doctor will likely perform a physical examination and scan your back and spine (X-ray, MRI, CT scan, etc.) for abnormalities. You will then be given a diagnosis.

Your diagnosis and prompt treatment from your doctor can help you significantly when it comes time to pursue a car accident claim. One of the arguments insurance companies often rely on is delayed treatment. If you took too long to see a doctor, they could claim that your injuries are fake or exaggerated. Insurance companies care more about saving money on their end than they do about compensating you for your losses.

After you get medical attention, it's critical that you speak to an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney who can deal with the insurance companies on your behalf. Contact The Hanamirian Firm, PC and schedule your free legal consultation.

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