An Overview of Common Back Injuries Suffered in Massachusetts Accidents and What to do After Being Hurt

Within a matter of seconds, devastating, life changing injuries can occur because of someone’s negligence.  Whether it be a negligent driver, who caused a car accident or a property owner, whose negligence created a situation that caused you to fall, injuries can result in extensive medical treatment, expensive bills, lost wages, permanent disability, and the loss of enjoyment of life. 

One troubling injury we routinely come across at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP is a back injury.  Unfortunately, back injuries can wreak havoc on an accident victim’s life and cause them to miss out on the enjoyment of many activities.  A mother may not be able to pick up or hold her child because of a back injury.  A person may not be able to work and earn money because of a back injury.  Back injuries usually cause extreme pain and suffering, which can make life miserable. The treatment for back injuries can go on for months, if not years and result in costly medical bills and out of pocket expenses.

A Brief Description and Treatment Options for Some Common Back Injuries

Here, we will discuss some of the most common back injuries, which include a herniated disc, fractured vertebrae, and back strain or sprain and the treatment options. We will also discuss their relation to personal injury cases in Massachusetts.

Herniated Disc

A herniated disc is more commonly known as a pinched nerve or bulging disc.  A herniated disc can occur in the neck, upper, or lower spine.  However, since the lower back bears the majority of daily torque and force, the lower back is the most popular area for a herniated disc injury.  To treat a herniated disc, surgery may be considered. Microdiscectomy is the most popular spine surgery used to alleviate herniated disc pain.  Microdiscectomy is a procedure that removes the herniated portion of the disc.  

Disc pain is often confused with nerve pain.  Sometimes, a nerve is being pinched by surrounding structures like a disc, therefore producing similar pain and symptoms associated with a herniated disc.  The difference between a herniated disc and a pinched nerve is that an injured nerve can radiate pain to other parts of your body.  For example, lower back pain can radiate pain down your leg or neck pain can radiate pain down your arm.

Fractured Vertebrae

Intense and quick impact is a common cause of a fractured vertebrae, especially in older adults.  A car crash or slip and fall are common accidents that cause a vertebra injury.  Pain from a fractured vertebra can last weeks and sometimes the pain lasts for several months.  Some accident victims even suffer pain long after the vertebra has healed because of stiffness or a change in the mechanics of the back. 

Treatment for a fractured vertebra is typically non-surgical.  A doctor usually prescribes pain medication and suggests using heat and ice for localized pain alleviation.  If surgery is needed, there are two surgeries doctors consider for healing:  vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.  Vertebroplasty is minimally invasive procedure that’s designed to reduce or eliminate pain by stabilizing the bone.  During this procedure, the surgeon will inject low viscosity cement into the injured vertebral body to stabilize and heal the fracture.  Kyphoplasty is also a minimally invasive procedure.  In kyphoplasty, the goal is to reduce the pain, stabilize the bone, and restore lost vertebral body height.

Back Sprain or Strain

A back sprain is an injury to the ligaments.  In a back sprain, a ligament is stretched and possibly torn, causing extreme back pain.  In contrast, a back strain injury is when a muscle or tendon has been stretched or torn.  The treatment and prognosis for both a back sprain and stain are the same.  After this type of injury, the areas surrounding the affected area usually become inflamed, which leads to back spasm, severe pain, and difficulty moving.

Fortunately, a back sprain or strain generally does not require surgery.  Instead, time and care are the most valuable treatment options.  Medications such as an anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen, are common prescriptions for inflammation and pain relief after a back sprain or strain.  Muscle relaxants are also common medications taken on a short-term basis for more severe back spasms.  Physical therapy may also be advised to help build back the lost muscle.

What Should you do After Being Involved in an Accident and Hurt your Back?

Get Medical Attention: If you were in a car accident and suffered a back injury, you should first get medical attention right away. A lot of times people, who are involved in a car accident and feel back pain, do not seek medical attention right away. This can have a negative impact on a potential personal injury claim. If you felt back pain, but refused to go to the emergency room or see a doctor soon after the accident, and later on find out your back injury is much more severe than you initially thought, an insurance company will use your delay or refusal to go the hospital as a reason to downplay your injury or argue that the back injury may have been caused somewhere else and by someone else. These are common reason insurance companies deny claims.

Likewise, if you slip and fall on snow and ice or a slippery surface and hurt your back, you should see a doctor right away. This will document the fact that you hurt your back the same day and time that you fell and also document how, where and why you fell (as long as you tell your doctor (i.e., snow and ice in the business parking lot)).

Get Legal Help: After getting medical help, it is important to seek legal advice.  Seeking legal advice is important because, in some situations, relating your back injury to your accident can be difficult. If an accident victim gives a statement to an insurance company without first consulting with an attorney, it could negatively impact a personal injury claim. Insurance companies employ adjusters, who are trained to take statements from accident victims. Part of their training is to ask certain questions that illicit responses that may create an issue of liability that can result in the denial of an injury claim.  

Also, insurance companies will often argue that the back injury is the result of degenerative conditions or previous injuries and not caused by the car accident or fall.  While it is true that back injuries are sometimes caused by wear and tear, the impact from a serious car accident or fall can also cause these injuries.  For these reasons, it is critical to consult with an experienced lawyer that specializes in personal injury cases before you speak with the insurance company or provide them with medical records or an authorization to release your medical records. 

If You Suffered A Back Injury In An Accident, We Can Help.

Our office has extensive experience dealing with back injuries. We have helped protect the rights of many clients and secured top financial compensation for them and their families for the medical bills and expenses incurred in treatment and rehabilitation as well as other losses from the accident and back injuries. 

If someone’s negligence caused you to suffer a back injury, you and your family deserve the maximum amount of compensation for your injury and losses.  Feel free to contact us online or call (508) 879-3500 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.