Many people walk away from car accidents with cuts and scrapes, or even broken bones. But approximately 30% of all car accident injuries seen by emergency doctors are related to the back and the spine. Even small collisions and fender benders can result in back pain that becomes a chronic problem over time. To prevent a lifelong issue, an Atlanta chiropractor should always be seen to identify the root cause of the pain and how to alleviate it. The treatment plan your chiropractor creates will likely involve ways to cope with the pain at home in addition to professional methods that repair the root of your issue.
Common Lower Back Injuries from Car Accidents
The human spine is made of a complex system of bones, muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nerves that all work together to hold the body together. In addition to the structural job of the spine, it also houses the spinal cord, a delicate structure that allows the body and the brain to communicate. Mobility, bodily systems as simple as breathing, and general health are all linked to the spine. Because of this, even slight damage sustained in a car accident can have catastrophic results.
The lower back (also known as the lumbar spine) is susceptible to certain types of injuries, including the following:
Lumbar Sprains: Excessive force on the back can lead to sprains in the lower back. In response to trauma like a car accident, the ligaments, muscles, and tendons can be stretched beyond their normal capacity, causing a strain or sprain.
Spinal Stenosis: Often a degenerative condition, spinal stenosis occurs when the bone channel that houses the spinal nerves and spinal cord begins to narrow. Even though this is typically caused by natural aging, trauma can also induce spinal stenosis. A bone fragment that was knocked loose or a ruptured disc can invade the spinal canal space and apply pressure to the nerves or cord, leading to pain or other symptoms.
Disc Herniation: Each vertebrae in the spine is separated by a cushion-like disc, designed to absorb shock. After trauma, these discs can become damaged so that their soft inner filling spills out and protrudes through the outer layer. This rupture itself is not usually painful, but the misplaced material can then compress surrounding nerves, causing pain in the lower back as well as the legs and into the feet. This can also lead to pain as the vertebrae rub against each other where they were not meant to.
Facet Joint Injuries: Facet joints are surrounded by a thick and flexible membrane that lubricates the joints, allowing the spine to move easily and support the weight of the body. These facet joints prevent the spine from moving too much in one direction or another. These may be confused with a disc injury, but they similarly can lead to over-flexibility or stiffness, causing pain and range of motion complications.
Treating Lower Back Injuries
An Atlanta chiropractor will always try to relieve your lower back pain with conservative and non-invasive methods. This can include home remedies as well as professional treatments in their office.
To cope with pain at home and avoid further injuries, you may use alternating heat and ice packs and over-the-counter medication. These should be paired with a balance of rest and gentle activity to help facilitate healing.
Your Atlanta chiropractor will likely perform a series of adjustments to realign your spine, helping it to return to health and proper function. This may be paired with physical therapy to help you regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion. These treatments typically bring about a full recovery after a car accident injury.
In some severe cases, surgery may be recommended to treat your lower back pain. This is typically explored after other treatments haven’t worked and quality of life is impacted. Surgery often has risks of its own that need to be weighed carefully against the benefits for the patient. When a surgery is well suited to the condition and symptoms, your Atlanta chiropractor will work closely with surgeons to ensure you get the desired outcome.
The Importance of Comprehensive Care
Because of the range of treatments that can be used to address lower back pain, it is important to take a holistic approach that allows you to address the root cause of your injury while also helping to manage your pain. This is why it’s important to know what doctor to see after an accident. At AICA Atlanta, chiropractors work with physical therapists, surgeons, and pain management specialists to create care plans that address all of your needs. When you contact AICA Atlanta, we will design a program specifically for your injury and provide a range of care. Call us today to begin.