Understanding Back 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:
- Blunt force trauma to the back
- Trauma caused by impacts to other parts of the body (i.e., in the case of a vehicle collision)
- Twisting, bending and lifting
- Slip-and-fall accidents and falls from height
- Falling off of a bicycle, scooter or motorcycle
- Sports and playground collisions
- Medical and nursing home negligence