Back Pain after Car Accident
With the exception of your neck, most of your spine is relatively well protected from traumatic injury by its location inside of the body. In some cases, though, trauma to the body may be so severe as to whip it around or push it violently to one side to the point of causing spinal injury. These spinal injuries may cause short term harm or long term paralysis. Car accidents are one type of event that involves high speeds and abrupt changes in velocity - which both have the potential to cause back pain and permanent injuries. Let's take a look at how back pain after car accident injuries may affect the spinal nerves, and what treatment injuries are available to treat these types of neurologic and musculoskeletal problems.
Scheuermann Disease: Typically, back conditions involving the thoracic spine only affect the elderly and a small percentage of the population who have spinal conditions such as severe scoliosis. The thoracic spine includes 12 thoracic vertebrae and stretches from the base of the neck to the top of the lower back. This part of the spine (T-Spine) is usually only affected during types of events such as the severe trauma of a car accident. In some cases, car accidents may be the cause of a condition known as Scheuermann's disease or Scheuermann's kyphosis.
Kyphosis or Kyphotic curve refers to a curve that is concave anteriorly and convex posteriorly. In laymen's terms, a normal kyphotic curve in the T-Spine will be one in which the spine curves towards the front of the body at a curvature of 20-40 degrees. Any bend more exaggerated than that may be labeled as abnormal kyphosis.
People with Scheuermann's disease often have an increased curve beyond normal that give them a pronounced roundback (also known as hump or hunch). People may or not experience pain as a result.
Normally, Scheuermann's Kyphosis is a disorder that develops in growing youngsters, as the hump of the upper back becomes more rounded as the vertebra develops abnormally. Instead of the vertebral bodies developing more of a block shape, the backs develop faster than the front part of them, and they become more wedge shape. These changes in the vertebral bones at the top of the spine cause this whole section to become more rounded.
In some cases, patients between the ages of 15-25 who have been in car accidents have been diagnosed with Scheuermann's Kyphosis based on their reported symptoms and X-Rays. Some symptoms that may lead doctors to suspect this condition include back pain that is exacerbated when trying to lean backwards and curvatures greater that 40 degrees as seen on lateral X-Rays of the T-Spine. In reality, many individuals already have thoracic curvatures greater than normal but never get tested because they report no symptoms.
Whiplash: The head and neck are located away from the body and are thus not as protected as the other sections. This gives us the flexibility to look up and down and to rotate our heads. This separation from the body is what makes the cervical spine to vulnerable to whiplash injuries in the event of traumas and car accidents. Whiplash injuries are ones in which the car suddenly changes velocity, causing the head to be whipped back and forth. Patients may experience neck pain for days afterwards, related to inflammation of the cervical discs or sprains to the ligaments. Often, this pain will go away as the injured structures heal themselves. In other cases, the pain may linger, even after X-Rays seem to show a healthy C-Spine without soft tissue damage.
Whiplash Treatments: Chiropractic adjustments may be appropriate in the treatment of whiplash injuries. These adjustments involve manual manipulations to jolt the vertebrae back into their proper alignment and mobilization stretching of the muscles and joints to reduce muscle spasms in the neck.