Your back supports your weight. You might not find any position comfortable when your back gets injured, whether you stand, sit, or lie down.
As a result, your quality of life could suffer significantly. More importantly, you might miss a substantial amount of time at work and require expensive surgery and physical therapy to try to relieve your pain.
Below, you will learn about the causes and symptoms of a back injury and how to seek compensation for one.
Your back plays two contradictory roles. It supports the weight of your torso, upper limbs, and head. But it also gives you the flexibility to bend over or twist your body. It does this because your spine contains 24 separate bones called vertebrae.
When you stand, the vertebrae align to form a strong column. When the vertebrae and discs between them are healthy, they can support your weight.
At the same time, the individual vertebrae allow your spine to arch and twist. This motion happens when the vertebrae move on the smooth, tough material of the discs.
Each vertebra includes a body and wing-shaped processes. The body carries your weight while the processes attach to the tendons of the back muscles.
The gap between the body and processes forms the spinal canal. The spinal canal protects your spinal cord.
Discs sit between adjacent pairs of vertebrae. Discs have a fibrous annulus surrounding a gel-like nucleus. The discs cushion the vertebrae and give them a smooth surface on which to move.
Ligaments hold your vertebrae together. They also maintain tension in your spine to hold the discs in place.
Some of the largest muscles in your body also sit in your back. These muscles anchor to your shoulder blades, spine, ribs, pelvis, and skull. They move your back and give it the strength to carry your body.
A back injury can have a few causes, including:
Hyperextension happens when forces on your back cause it to stretch, bend, or twist abnormally.
For example, another vehicle might hit you from the side during a car accident at an intersection. This would force your upper body sideways, causing your back to bend toward the collision, then away from it. The sideways whipping force could hyperextend the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of your back.
Another cause of back injuries is a blunt force impact, which happens when something hits your back without causing an open wound.
An object could strike your back. A car hitting your back in a pedestrian accident would cause blunt force trauma.
Your back could strike an object. You could suffer blunt force trauma when your back hits the ground after a slip and fall accident.
Penetrating trauma happens when something hits your back and pierces the skin. Penetrating trauma can happen in a workplace accident when a piece of material gets ejected out of a defective machine and penetrates your back.
A common occupational injury happens while performing repetitive motions at work like lifting, carrying, and walking. Small tears and cracks form in your bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments when you stress your back. With rest, these tiny injuries will heal.
One reason for exercising is that these tiny injuries heal stronger than before, causing you to build muscle and bone mass.
But if you repeat motions without resting, these tiny tears and cracks will propagate instead of healing. As a result, you can develop stress fractures, degenerative disc disease, and torn muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Workers’ compensation usually covers these injuries when they happen at work.
Back injuries can take many forms depending on the injured tissues. The type of injury will determine the prognosis and treatment for the injury.
Some examples of back injuries include:
When you stretch or tear the muscles, tendons, or ligaments in your back, you could suffer significant limitations on your activities. A strain happens when muscles or tendons are stretched or torn.
Symptoms of a back strain include:
A sprain occurs when you stretch or tear the ligaments in your back, such as those holding your vertebrae together.
Symptoms of a sprained back include:
Sprains and strains heal on their own in most cases. Your doctor will likely prescribe rest and time off from work. You may also take anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and promote healing.
Trauma and wear can cause the tissue of your discs to break down. You have a bulging disc when the annulus deforms into a flat shape. You have a herniated disc when the annulus separates and allows the nucleus to squeeze out.
In either case, the deformed disc will cause your back to become unstable and weak. The damaged disc can also cause local and radiating pain since the deformed disc can press on nearby nerve roots.
The most serious back injury is a fractured vertebra. A vertebra can fracture from trauma that snaps the body or processes of the vertebra.
A fractured vertebra can paralyze you if bone fragments dislocate into the spinal canal and sever or compress the spinal cord.
You can seek workers’ compensation if you suffered your back injury in the course and scope of your work. You can seek personal injury compensation if you can prove that your accident resulted from someone else’s negligence.
Back injuries are the most common cause of missed work days. They can significantly impact your ability to work and earn a living. They can also stop you from enjoying the activities you love, from sports to travel.
To discuss the compensation you can seek for the effects of your back injury, contact Oresky & Associates, PLLC to schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers in the Bronx or our personal injury attorney in Queens.