If you have been the unfortunate victim of a car accident, then you might be dealing with car accident injuries. Neck and back pain are common symptoms experienced by people involved in car accidents. The sudden force of impact can cause your body to get jostled around violently, which can put a lot of pressure on your spine and other parts of the body. You could also suffer a blow to the back, spine, or side that results in a serious car accident injury. Whenever you’ve been in a car accident, you want to seek medical attention right away, regardless of whether you experience any symptoms. Car accident injuries can sometimes have delayed symptoms because of shock and adrenaline after a traumatic event. It can be hazardous to your health to avoid or delay medical attention for any pain near your spine. Orthopedic spine surgeons who specialize in car accident injuries can provide you with a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan based on your specific injury.
What Is an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon?
An orthopedic spine surgeon is a type of medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect the spine, including car accident injuries. To become an orthopedic surgeon, an individual needs to complete an undergraduate degree before attending medical school. It typically takes four years to complete medical school, after which an individual would complete a residency in orthopedic surgery to gain experience in treating musculoskeletal conditions, including those that impact the spine. After completing a residency, they would then go on to complete a fellowship in spine surgery, which can take an additional few years to complete. While orthopedic spine surgeons have the term ‘surgeon’ in their title, they do not always perform surgeries. In fact, orthopedic surgeons use a variety of treatments to address injuries and conditions, including medication, minimally invasive procedures, physical therapy, and surgery.
Why Would You Need to See an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon?
If you experience an injury, you may want to see an orthopedic spine surgeon who specializes in your type of injury. These types of injuries can include fractures, sprains, dislocations, herniated discs, or pinched nerves. Here are some examples of how you could experience a spinal injury and how an orthopedic spine surgeon can help.
Car Accident Injuries
Car accident injuries are responsible for millions of back and neck injuries each year. The violent jostling back and forth of your upper body can damage soft tissues, nerves, and even bones and joints. Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries and can cause neck pain, stiffness, and difficulty turning your head from side to side. Lower back injuries and back pain are also common with car accident injuries.
You can also suffer an injury to the spine from a sports accident. Sports injuries can occur for athletes who participate in high-impact sports like football, wrestling, and soccer. You can also suffer a sports injury that impacts your spine in individual sports like swimming or gymnastics, both of which use movements and motions that can put stress or strain on the spine. Improper technique or a sudden fall or accident while playing a sport or participating in an activity you enjoy can also result in an injury that can be treated by your orthopedic spine specialist.
Slip and Fall Injuries
Slip and fall injuries can occur anywhere, including at home and at work. You might trip going up the stairs in your home and end up with a few injuries. Or you might slip and fall on a slippery or hazardous surface at work, resulting in an injury. No matter where the slip and fall injury occurs, you can experience back pain and other uncomfortable symptoms that can affect your quality of life. An orthopedic spine surgeon can diagnose your injuries and provide you with the treatment necessary to help you recover.
Types of Spine Injuries
A wide variety of injuries to the spine and back area can cause back pain. Here are four types of spine injuries and their common signs and symptoms.
The muscles and tendons that support your back and spine can strain, which means they become overstretched or tear because of the accident. This can cause back pain and tenderness in the area, making regular movements uncomfortable or impossible without significant pain.
A fracture is another term for a broken bone. The vertebrae in your spine are joints that can become cracked or fractured with too much pressure, like a sudden blow to the area. A fracture can cause significant pain and may even impact healthy functioning in other parts of the body.
A herniated disc is a type of injury that affects the spinal discs. A spinal disc has a tough outer shell with a soft, gel-like nucleus. If the outer shell becomes cracked or torn because of the car accident, then the center of the disc can spill out and irritate nearby nerves. A herniated disc can cause pain and discomfort in the area, along with tingling and numbness that extends into your extremities.
A pinched nerve refers to a damaged or compressed nerve. A herniated disc is one way you can experience a pinched nerve from a car accident injury. Damage to nerves can disrupt healthy communication from the brain to the rest of the body, resulting in pain, weakness, tingling, and numbness that radiates into other parts of the body.
Symptoms of a Spine Injury
- Severe Pain
- Nerve Damage
- Loss of Function
When to See an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon for Whiplash
One of the most common car accidents people experience every year is whiplash. The sudden force of impact can cause your head and neck to get jostled around, violently moving forward and backward. This can cause your neck muscles and tendons to stretch and strain out of their typical range of motion, resulting in strained tissues. A whiplash injury can cause a variety of symptoms that may take hours or even days to develop fully. Pain, inflammation, and stiffness are common signs of a whiplash injury. Your orthopedic spine surgeon can diagnose or rule out a whiplash injury with a physical examination, a review of your symptoms and medical history, and diagnostic imaging tools. An X-ray or CT scan can help rule out injuries with similar symptoms, like broken bones or dislocations.
How an Orthopedic Surgeon Treats Injuries
An orthopedic surgeon can provide a variety of treatment options depending on the type and severity of your car accident injury. Here are a few examples of what to expect when you visit an orthopedic surgeon after an accident:
Your orthopedic surgeon can talk you through all your options for pain management, ranging from all-natural options to medications. Resting is one of the most important things you can do after a car accident to support the healing and recovery process. Applying ice and heat can also help with the pain. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications to help with the pain, though it is important to note that these only mask symptoms of pain temporarily and do not treat the source of your pain. Pain management solutions are typically recommended in tandem with other treatment options.
Minimally Invasive Techniques
Minimally invasive techniques for back pain after an accident may include injections or laparoscopic procedures. Some spine and back injuries may require additional treatment and support to help manage pain and improve healthy functioning. Instead of a full surgery, your orthopedic surgeon may also complete a minimally invasive surgical procedure known as a laparoscopic surgery that makes small incisions for instruments and a camera to explore the area.
Your orthopedic spine surgeon will likely also recommend physical therapy to help you recover after the accident. Physical therapy can help you regain your strength and mobility safely while you heal from your injuries. A physical therapist will partner with your orthopedic surgeon to provide you with the most appropriate treatment for your back pain and injury. Physical therapists use a combination of treatment techniques, including stretches, exercises, and soft tissue mobilization, to help support your healing and recovery.
Your orthopedic spine surgeon may recommend surgery, or you may suffer a severe injury that requires surgery. An orthopedic spine surgeon can perform a variety of surgical procedures, including decompression, discectomy, fusion, laminectomy, and spinal fusion. Your orthopedic spine surgeon will talk to you about the most appropriate procedure for your specific circumstances.
Where to Find an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon in Atlanta
If you are experiencing back pain after a car accident, you want to get it checked out by doctors who work with these types of injuries every day. At AICA Orthopedics, our team of doctors includes orthopedic spine surgeons with multiple locations across the metro-Atlanta area. You can find an Atlanta orthopedic spine surgeon near you at one of our AICA car accident clinics, where our team of car accident doctors offer comprehensive treatment and care for a wide variety of car accident injuries.