It is tempting to tough out back pain and hope it will simply go away on its own. We live busy lives and the last thing you want to worry about is back pain after a car accident. However, car accident injuries are complex and when insurance and claims lawyers get involved it can become even more complex. Instead of waiting for the pain to go away on its own, you may want to consider a consultation with a car accident doctor to make sure your back pain isn’t a sign of something more serious.
Types of Lower Back Pain After a Car Accident
Even if you were in a low-speed car accident, you can still get an injury that can cause you pain and discomfort for weeks and even turn into chronic pain if it goes untreated. Here are three examples of car accident injuries that can cause lower back pain.
Lower Back Strain
Many car accident injuries are caused by the force of the impact and how your body is shaken around. In many car accidents, your body doesn’t have time to brace itself and your muscles can end up stretched out of their normal range of motion. Rear-end collisions can cause the muscles and tendons in your lower back to strain as your body is flung forward with the sudden impact. The feeling of strained muscles and tendons in your lower back is commonly referred to as “pulling a muscle”. It can cause extreme discomfort when you try to turn or twist your body.
A herniated disc is more commonly known as a “slipped disc” and can happen when the force of the accident affects your spine. When your lower back is jolted around or even damaged by the car accident, it can cause a disc to slip out of place. Discs separate the vertebrae in your back and are a spongy-like material that also help absorb shock. When a disc is jostled out of place it can cause the vertebrae to rub against each other, causing serious pain. A disc can also bulge out of place and put pressure on a nearby nerve, causing shooting pain.
Sciatica is actually the name for the type of pain you experience when a slipped disc or other injury is putting pressure on your sciatic nerve. Located in your lower back, the sciatic nerve can shoot radiating pain down your legs and all the way to your toes when it is pressured. It can be a scary experience because it can lead to tingling and even numbness in your legs which is why treatment for Sciatica has to be applied immediately. Any injury to your lower back and the spinal cord should be taken seriously and assessed by a doctor as soon as possible.
Timeline for Treating Lower Back Pain
Immediately After the Car Accident
The phrase “better safe than sorry” definitely applies to back pain after a car accident. Lower back pain can seem like a mild discomfort at first, but once the adrenaline and shock of the accident wear off, you may begin to experience more serious pain. A car accident doctor can evaluate your whole back, including the spine and its supporting muscles and soft tissues, to determine whether or not there has been serious injury in the area. Your doctor will likely use diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays and CT scans to get a better visualization of the trauma and determine how to best proceed. With mild to moderate back pain after a car accident, a combination of pain medication and the R.I.C.E. method can help address the pain and swelling in your lower back.
Within the First Week
The R.I.C.E. method is helpful in the hours and days after the accident to help provide pain relief other than through medication. This method stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevate. When it comes to a lower back injury, it is important that you not overdo it by trying to twist and turn your back too much after the accident. Ice therapy can help bring down the swelling, calm affected nerves, and also help temporarily relieve the pain. Compression can help especially with sciatica and when the pain is affecting your legs. Elevating your legs especially while you sleep can help relieve pain and pressure on your lower back.
In the Weeks Ahead
A skilled doctor will develop a treatment plan to address your back pain after a car accident that is specific to your injury, symptoms, and medical history. At AICA Atlanta, our car accident doctors and chiropractors work with car accident injuries every day and know how to develop individualized treatment plans so you get the comprehensive care you deserve.