The back or spine is composed of robust and resilient tendons, muscles and ligaments that provide support to our vertebrae, discs and the spinal cord. Although these structures are inherently strong, just like any other part of the body, they can become injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Overall, back pain after a car accident is one of the most common injuries reported. Below are some of the most common questions that we receive about back pain post car accident.
Question: Are there Different Types of Back Pain?
Yes, there are! The different types of back pain that you can experience after a car accident include:
- Thoracic Spine Injury
- Lumbar Spine Injury
- Herniated Discs
- Spinal Cord injuries
- Spinal Fractures
These types of injuries are likely a result of the trauma of the motor vehicle accident producing a sudden spike in the load (force) surpassing the capacity of the tissues of your back. This can be compared on a smaller scale to you dropping something on your foot (sudden spike in load) and then pain followed by soreness for the days after because there was not enough time for your tissues to adapt and build resiliency. Although these diagnoses and types of pain sound scary, the body’s ability to adapt and heal is remarkable and with proper care most of these diagnoses will heal with time and allow you to get back to all of the things you love to do.
Question: What Do I Do If I Have Back Pain After An Accident?
If you find that you are suffering from back pain after a car accident, it is best to seek treatment sooner rather than later. Not only can seeing a physical therapist help to decrease pain, it may also shorten the recovery time of your back injury.
Seeking physical therapy care early on can be extremely beneficial for long term outcomes. Often times a motor vehicle accident will result in certain positions to be sensitive and cause pain which will often negatively motivate us to remove ourselves from movement in general. This could also result in certain negative expectations and poor beliefs about our back which we know can also perpetuate symptoms. Seeking physical therapy care will allow you to rule out some of the more scary diagnoses that would require further medical intervention and begin to formulate a plan to progress you back to your cherished activities.
Physical therapy can educate you on:
- Prognosis and realistic expectations for rehab
- How to combat certain sensitive positions that cause pain
- Formulate an individualized gameplan to ease back into your specific activities that you enjoy
- Begin to empower you to build autonomy and confidence concerning your back to allow you to gain control of your situation rather than feel helpless.
Question: Are My Symptoms Normal? Why Was My Pain Delayed?
Often with car accident injuries, the onset of pain occurs over the course of several days. This delay of pain is related to our sympathetic nervous system which gives us a rush of adrenaline when we are injured, causing us to not immediately feel the pain from the injury. This lack of immediate pain may cause you to think you may have not suffered from an injury.
While each back injury may have unique symptoms, they also share some common characteristics including:
- Feeling of stiffness
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Pain while moving
- Other noted changes with mobility
Question: Do I Need To See A Doctor?
If you feel you are suffering from back pain post car accident, we recommend scheduling an appointment to see a physical therapist. Physical therapists are highly trained in treating back injuries of all kinds. Your physical therapist will determine the severity of your back injury and design a customized treatment plan that will have you feeling pain free.
Typical treatments for back injuries include:
- Education on what back pain is and what it is not
- Resuming work and cherished activities as soon as tolerated
- Mobility exercises to decrease sensitivity to certain positions
- Progressive resistance training to build resilience and robustness in lower back to allow for tolerance to activities of daily living and getting back to recreational activity
- Manual therapy to decrease sensitivity and open a window of time of decreased pain to allow you to get back to the things you enjoy
- Recreational activities such as walking also have a positive correlation with decreased low back pain.
The ultimate goal of physical therapy is to decrease pain, improve quality of life, and get you back to your favorite activities. However, it is important to remember that pain is a normal part of life and if you experience pain that does not make you dysfunctional or mean you did something wrong. Physical therapy will help to make you more resilient and equip you with tools to make modifications to activity and educate you to have a more positive mindset concerning your back.
If you are experiencing back pain after a car accident and are looking for relief, contact your local Therapydia clinic.