People often incur extreme force or pressure to their backs during major falls at work and during serious car and truck accidents. After such upper back, thoracic, or other spinal cord injuries, it is crucial for the survivors to obtain the best care possible without delay. Unfortunately, spinal cord injury is among the most serious and severe injuries. Very often clients sustain life-changing injuries or wrongful death. Spinal cord injury victims also often need to avail themselves of both medical care for improved health and personal injury law depending on the type of accident.
When first meeting with your doctors, be sure to fully describe every type of back injury, spinal injury, or pain you are experiencing. This helps them run all the most appropriate diagnostic tests necessary for you to obtain the different types of urgent care for your spine injury. Of course, since some pain may not develop right away, you must be sure to update them when new types of pain begin to cause you great discomfort – so additional treatments can be provided.
What follows is a brief overview of the basic structure of the back and the different types of treatments you may require to hopefully reverse some painful symptoms before they become chronic. Additional material discusses the difference between acute and chronic back pain, as well as back sprains and traumatic back injuries.
Back structures most often injured due to bad falls and major vehicle accidents
The spinal vertebrae. These bones support most of the weight of the upper body. The spine runs from the first cervical disc down to the L5-S1 disc in the lumbar and sacral region. The spine consists of the cervical spine (upper back or neck), thoracic spine (middle back), and lumbar spine (lower back).
The intervertebral discs. Generally consisting of a spongy-type material (prior to one’s senior years) – these often act like shock absorbers between the thoracic vertebrae in the upper back area.
Ligaments and tendons. Ligaments are sometimes described as bands of tissue that help hold the vertebrae in position. Tendons keep the muscles attached to the spinal column.
Thirty-one pairs of nerves. These run throughout the spinal column, helping people control their movements – while also making it possible for the body and brain to send signals to one another.
Understanding the difference between traumatic back, lumbar spine, neck injury & simple back sprains
Traumatic back injuries. These are generally the result of major motor vehicle accidents, serious falls at work, and sporting mishaps. In some cases, when significant damage has been sustained, immediate surgery may be required. In fact, multiple surgeries may be necessary when unbearable pain continues and is poorly addressed by both rehabilitative exercises and pain medications.
Back sprains. These types of injuries often involve torn or overstretched ligaments and tears in the tendons or muscles of the back. Patients with these types of complaints may often report muscle spasms – often caused by the sudden contraction of one or more muscles.
Distinguishing between acute and chronic back pain – and prescribing treatments
Acute pain. Patients often report this shortly after their accidents; it tends to last only a few days to several weeks. With proper medical attention and self-care, there may be no long-term loss of function when this type of pain is experienced. However, it may take several months for acute pain to finally dissipate or disappear.
While this level of discomfort often resolves on its own, it can also be treated with muscle relaxants, topical pain relief, or analgesics including aspirin or acetaminophen.
Gentle stretching and heat (or ice) are also useful in treating acute pain.
Chronic back pain. Doctors generally classify back pain as chronic when it continues for 12 or more weeks. Although various types of rehabilitative therapies can help address this type of pain, — if it continues for a lengthy time — surgery may be required.
Of course, all (back) surgeries pose significant risks or threats to patients and should often only be considered when the pain is either unrelenting — or is preventing the person from returning to work or most preferred daily activities. When some of the drugs already noted above do not prove helpful, doctors may use opioid drugs — and even anticonvulsants that can sometimes prove helpful in treating sciatica.
After obtaining a thorough medical history from a patient and conducting a complete physical exam, treating physicians often run the following tests to help them better understand and heal this type of pain.
X-rays or radiographs. Electromagnetic radiation can help to create clear images of all the bones located near a patient’s pain. Doctors often first spot fractures, spinal degeneration — and even tumors — on x-rays.
MRIs. Strong magnets and radio waves are used to create cross-section images of both bones and soft tissues. Physicians regularly depend on MRIs to help them spot spinal cord or nerve compression, infections, damaged ligaments, and tumors. MRIs are often used to diagnose disc injury.
An exam to detect bone mineral density. X-rays can be used to help doctors measure bone density and osteoporosis. The latter ailment can cause upper back or thoracic back pain – separate and apart from injuries sustained in a recent accident.
A medial branch nerve block. This process involves using fluoroscopy and the injection of an analgesic near the patient’s medial nerves. If the pain is successfully numbed, doctors can often accurately diagnose the correct pain source.
Blood tests and a few other exams may also be used. These alternatives may become necessary when a patient cannot tolerate undergoing an MRI test.
Alternative or additional treatments sometimes preferred by upper back or neck pain patients
While most conservative forms of exercise can often relieve back pain (if approved by your doctor in advance), here are some other approaches to pain relief.
Acupuncture. Needles are strategically inserted in different parts of the body with the hope that when they are stimulated, they may help your body release painkilling chemicals such as serotonin, endorphins, and acetylcholine.
A TENS unit. The “TENS” stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. This treatment requires a healthcare provider to place electrodes on your skin over the areas where you are experiencing the most pain. This battery-powered device may help modify or block your perception of pain.
Various types of physical therapy programs. These are usually created to help patients strengthen their core muscle groups in the hope that they will help them improve their flexibility and mobility.
Spinal manipulation and mobilization. Chiropractors will often use their hands to massage, adjust or otherwise stimulate the spine and all its surrounding tissues. Unfortunately, many of these techniques may only offer short-term benefits.
Traction. Although often overlooked, this old-fashioned type of treatment can help pull a person’s skeletal structure back into better alignment. If this type of treatment is undergone for many weeks at a time, permanent pain relief can be achieved for some patients. Home traction units are relatively easy to use.
Spinal injections. Although these types of injections can help release or relax your knotted muscles, they may not always provide you long-term pain relief. Three types of these injections are often offered. They include radiofrequency ablation (rhizotomy) – this may help provide relief for several months; trigger point injections; and epidural steroid injections. While some patients may request these frequently, the relief they gain is usually not long-lasting.
A Brooklyn spinal cord injury lawyer will examine the full medical evidence including the history, symptoms, diagnosis, and prognosis. Very often a back injury can start as a herniated disc after a car accident or workers’ compensation incident meaning the nucleus of the jelly disc material has ruptured outside the disc pressing upon the nerve roots surrounding the vertebra. A spinal cord injury case requires an experienced injury attorney with respect to the legal process as well as medical knowledge.
A back injury claim can occur from medical malpractice such as an error during spinal surgery, workplace injuries, an auto accident, slip, trip, and fall as well as other causes. An injured individual may need a workers compensation attorney as well as a personal injury lawyer to obtain full and fair compensation from all available sources. Common injuries including the following types of back injury: a muscle spasm, soft tissue injury, chronic pain, fractured vertebrae, a bulging or herniated disk which can impinge upon the spinal nerve creating radiculopathy or radiating pain. More severe cervical or lumbar injury includes paralysis or a complete spinal cord injury which means the nerves under the point of injury cannot communicate with the brain leading to loss of sensation. An experienced spine injury lawyer ensures proper medical treatment and cares for the spinal injury victim. Helping serious injury victims and families is our law firm mission.
Damages available to survivors of back injury including conscious pain & suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and future costs of care, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and wrongful death damages. With respect to economic damages, experts including an economist and life care planner are often used. The cost of medical care such as long-term care can be very significant depending on the type of injury sustained. Coordination with top medical professionals familiar with various types of injuries discussed here is critical. In serious cases, a neurological surgeon may be needed to care for both a spinal cord injury as well as a traumatic brain injury.
If you have suffered a serious back injury due to a motor vehicle accident, a fall at work caused by someone else’s negligence, or any other personal injury, you should contact our Brooklyn back injury law firm.
A personal injury attorney will carefully investigate all the facts of your case, review all your medical records, and then fight hard to win the maximum compensation available to you. Our spinal cord injury attorney strives to ensure every client fully recovers from all lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other losses. An accident victim including a spinal cord injury victim deserves and requires the best legal help resulting in full justice.