What’s Causing Neck & Lower Back Pain After a Miami Car Accident?
April 3, 2023 | Sagi Shaked | Car Accidents
A collision produces enormous forces that can damage your body. After a car accident, you might feel aches, pains, and even dizziness. These symptoms may result from tears, fractures, and other forms of damage to your body tissues.
But one of the most common complaints after a car accident includes pain in the back and neck. These pains come from the spine, soft tissues, and nerves in your back that can get stretched and twisted during a collision.
There are several common causes of neck and lower back pain after an accident, and you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries.
The Construction of Your Spine
Your spine includes 24 vertebrae. These individual bones give your spine flexibility and strength. But they also make your back vulnerable to injury in a crash.
The neck includes seven cervical vertebrae. Your ribs attach to 12 thoracic vertebrae. You have five lumbar vertebrae in your lower back.
The cervical vertebrae support your head and neck. The lumbar vertebrae transfer the entire weight of your upper body to your hips and legs. These vertebrae hold your body up, but in doing so, they must carry massive amounts of weight.
Fibrous discs sit between each pair of vertebrae. These discs include a gel-like interior to help cushion your discs. When you sit, stand, or walk, these discs prevent your vertebrae from grinding against one another. When they get damaged, the spine destabilizes, and worse yet, the discs can deform.
One of the primary purposes of the spine is to protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord runs through the spinal canal formed between the bodies and processes of the vertebrae. The nerves of the spinal cord carry all nerve signals between the brain and body below the neck.
How Do Car Accidents Injure the Neck and Lower Back?
The neck and lower back are particularly prone to injuries in a car accident. Crashes injure your spine in a few ways, including:
A blunt impact happens when you hit your neck or back without suffering an open wound. The impact can bruise or even tear your soft tissues. It can also damage your discs and vertebrae.
During a car accident, you may strike your neck on your seat or headrest. If your body twists during the crash, you can hit your back or neck on the door or center console.
Hyperextension causes most accident-related neck and back injuries. Hyperextension happens when your body tissues get stretched beyond their normal capacities. These forces can tear your soft tissues.
Your spine almost always hyperextends during a car accident. When you run into something or slam on your brakes during a collision, your body and head keep moving forward. Your body hits your seat belt and arcs forward, stressing your back.
Since your seat belt does not restrain your head, your head whips forward after your body stops. The entire 11-pound weight of your head pulls and bends your neck. This whipping motion of your head produces whiplash injuries.
While this might not seem like much force, bear in mind that a gallon can of paint weighs about 11 pounds. Imagine a gallon of paint traveling at highway speeds pulling on your neck to envision how much damage whiplash can do.
Causes of Neck and Lower Back Pain in a Collision
The forces your body experiences in a car crash can cause a variety of injuries. Some possible causes of neck and lower back pain include:
Strained Back and Neck Muscles
When you hyperextend your muscles or tendons, you suffer a strain.
The symptoms of back and neck strain include:
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Muscle spasms and weakness
The symptoms of a strain will usually go away in four to six weeks with home care. If you suffer a full-thickness tear, you may need more time to recover. But doctors rarely operate on a strained neck or back.
Sprained Spine Ligaments
Hyperextending your spine ligaments will produce a sprained neck or back.
A sprain causes:
- Spine pain
- Limited range of motion
You may also experience a popping sound or feeling in your neck or back when you sprain your spine.
A mild sprain will heal in four to six weeks. A severe sprain may take months to heal.
Bulging or Herniated Discs
During an accident, your spine hyperextends. As you come to a stop, your vertebrae come crashing together. The compression of your spine can crush your discs, causing them to deform.
If the fibrous shell ruptures, the inner gel can protrude through the tear. This type of damage is called a herniated disc. If the shell remains intact but flattens around its middle, you have a bulging disc.
Disc damage will weaken your spine. It will also stress the tendons, ligaments, and muscles, since everything shifts out of place.
But the most serious symptoms of a bulging or herniated disc can happen when the protrusion pushes on a nerve root. As your spinal cord passes through your spine, it branches into nerve roots at each vertebra. When a disc deforms, it irritates the adjacent nerve root, causing pain, numbness, and weakness.
Importantly, this pain may radiate outward to the body parts connected to the nerve root. Neck pain may radiate into your shoulders and arms. Lower back pain may radiate into your buttocks, hips, and legs.
Can You Get Compensation for Neck or Lower Back Pain After a Miami Car Accident?
Florida uses no-fault insurance. This insurance system guarantees partial benefits for minor injuries. For example, suppose that you strained your back in a car accident. Your PIP auto insurance carrier should pay 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your wage losses that result from your injury.
If you exceed your no-fault policy limits or suffer a permanent back injury, however, you may have the right to pursue a personal injury claim. To do this, you will need to prove that the other driver negligently caused your accident.
If you experienced neck or lower back pain after a car accident in Miami, FL, you should consider speaking to a lawyer about the claims you might have against the at-fault driver.