Breaking Down Spinal Cord Injuries
The spine consists of 33 bones called vertebrae that are separated by discs that act as shock absorbers. The vertebrae are held together by facet joints, and ligaments, tendons and muscles hold the spine in place while also allowing it to move. Protected by the spine, the spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs from the skull to the lower back and that works to deliver signals throughout the body.
Most back injuries are labeled according to where they occur in the spine. Generally speaking, injuries that occur higher on the spine are more serious than those that occur lower. That said, lower back pain is extremely common, and it can result from both traumatic accidents and repetitive stress. The labels used to identify back injuries are:
- Cervical Spine Injuries– The cervical region is the uppermost portion of the spine. It consists of the C1 to C7 vertebrae.
- Thoracic Spine Injuries – The thoracic region makes up the middle back. It consists of the T1 to T12 vertebrae.
- Lumbar Spine Injuries – The lumbar region is located in the lower back. It consists of the L1 to L5 vertebrae.
- Sacrum Injuries – The sacrum sits below the lumbar region. It consists of the S1 to S5 vertebrae.
- Coccyx Injuries – The coccyx is more commonly known as the tailbone. It consists of four vertebrae that are fused together.
Back injuries in all regions of the spine can result from various causes. In addition to hereditary conditions, some of the most common causes of back injuries include:
Additional Claims Eligible for Compensation with the Help of a Back Injury Lawyer
There are a wide variety of back and spinal cord injuries you can suffer in an accident:
- Herniated discs: The discs of tissue between the vertebrae in your spine can bulge or slip due to the violent forces caused by an accident. The herniated disc can press on nerves and other surrounding tissue and cause considerable pain. They often require extensive surgery to repair. In serious cases, you could be facing disability due to a disc injury.
- Fractures: Falls or car accidents often result in broken vertebrae, a very serious injury. It can take several months to fully heal if you break your back.
- Spinal cord injuries: These are the most serious back or neck injuries you can suffer. When the spinal cord is damaged, it can result in partial or total paralysis. Whether partially or totally severed, you could be facing permanent disability.
- Nerve damage: Trauma to the back or neck can damage the nerves, resulting in pain that radiates out to your extremities. Common symptoms of nerve damage are tingling or loss of sensation in your extremities.
- Whiplash: Whiplash is a common injury in rear-end car accidents. The force of the accident causes the head to violently whip back and forth, resulting in damage to the nerves and considerable strain on the muscles and ligaments in the neck.
The above is not an exhaustive list. You should contact an Atlanta, Alpharetta or Cumming back injury lawyer as soon as possible no matter what kind of back or neck injury you have suffered.
Symptoms of a Spinal Cord or Back Injury
Back and spinal cord injuries are not always immediately apparent. You may feel fine immediately after the accident, but then the pain manifests itself in the days to follow. You should get a thorough medical exam following your accident if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Numbness or loss of sensation
- Decreased range of motion
- Chronic or severe headaches
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of fine motor skills
- Delayed reflexes
- Respiratory problems
- Partial or intermittent paralysis
- Persistent stiffness or soreness
- Chronic pain
No matter what your symptoms, it’s important to listen to your body. An untreated back or neck injury can lead to other problems or become a permanent disability.