Articles Tagged with Back Injury After a Car Accident

MRIMost people who are in car and truck accidents suffer from neck and back pain. Sometimes after undergoing diagnostic tests, they find out that the cushion-like disks that separate the bones (vertebrae) in their backbones have been damaged. This especially happens in rear-end collisions. Your doctor may have told you that you have one or more herniated and bulging disks. This post discusses what this means and what you can do about these often serious medical problems.

What is a herniated disk?

A herniated disk happens if the outside of the annulus fibrosis, the disk’s outer cover, ruptures or tears. Some of the soft nucleus puplosus, the jelly-like material inside the disk that gives it the shock-absorbing quality to protect your vertebrae, leaks out.

Sometimes it escapes into the spinal canal, often contacting a spinal nerve root. Enormous pain and other symptoms can result.

Herniated disks progress in stages going from smaller to the most extreme: prolapsing, protruding, extruding, to sequestering. In that last state, the material inside the disk has severed from the disc.

They are also referred to as ruptured or slipped disks and the pain can be called a pinched nerve.

Adding to the complexity of a correct diagnosis, herniated disks do not always cause extreme discomfort. At other times, the symptoms are more like those from bulging disks that are described below.

Further, while they can be caused by the sudden trauma of being crashed into by another vehicle, they can also be caused by aging, falls, other injuries, or other factors.

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The force that accompanies the impact of a car accident makes the neck and spine especially vulnerable to injury. That’s one reason why it’s very common to have a back injury after a car accident, even if you don’t realize an injury has occurred immediately afterwards. Another is the structure of the spine itself.The spine extends from the base of your skull to your tailbone. The entire spinal column is made up of small bones called vertebra. The area where one vertebra joins to the next is called a facet joint. Like other types of joints throughout your body, facet joints are what allow the spine to move in different directions.

There is cartilage between the facet joints, which gives the joints flexibility. Flat, round, gel-like cushions called the inter-vertebral discs act as a shock absorber between the vertebrae. The spinal cord and nerves pass through an opening in the middle of the vertebrae called the spinal canal.

The shape of the spine is also designed to protect it. Even when you ‘stand up straight’, like your parents and teachers probably told you as a child, the spine has a natural ‘S’ shape when viewed from the side. These curves help support your body’s weight and make it more resilient to stress than it would be if it were straight.

The spine also consists of soft tissue including tendons, ligaments, and muscles. The muscles provide movement while the tendons and ligaments connect muscle to bone and bone to bone. During a car accident, damage can occur to any area of the spine, leading to damage and pain.

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