Back injuries can have a major effect on your life. It can affect your ability to walk or lift and carry items at work. If you work in an office, a back injury can affect your ability to sit comfortably.
An injury to your back can also affect your home life. You might not be able to care for your children, shop, or cook. After even a minor back injury, doctors might prescribe bed rest, limiting your ability to care for yourself.
What Is the Structure of Your Back?
Your back performs many functions. First, it protects your spinal cord from injuries. Damage to your spinal cord can cause paralysis and sensory loss below the injury.
Your back also supports the weight of your head and torso. It transfers that weight to the hips, allowing you to stand, walk, and jump.
Your back gives your body flexibility as well. You can bend and turn your body because of the muscles and joints in your back.
The spine provides support and structure for your back. The spine includes 24 vertebrae running from your skull to your pelvis. The top seven vertebrae in your neck make up your cervical spine. The next 12 vertebrae attach to your ribs and make up your thoracic spine.
The bottom seven vertebrae form your lumbar spine. These vertebrae connect to your pelvis and help your legs and hips support your weight in both sitting and standing positions.
Each vertebra has a cylindrical body to carry and transfer forces up and down your spine. It also has protrusions called processes where ligaments and tendons attach to the spine.
Discs sit between the vertebrae. They cushion the spine so that the vertebrae do not crash into each other. The discs also have a smooth, tough surface that allows the vertebrae to slide smoothly as you twist your back.
Ligaments in your back connect vertebrae. They provide tension to hold the vertebrae and discs in place. Muscles move your back. Tendons anchor the back muscles to the skull, spine, shoulder blades, ribs, pelvis, and collarbones.
How Can a Back Injury Happen?
Back injuries usually result from trauma, although age, wear, and prior injuries can increase your risk of an injury. Some types of trauma that can produce a back injury include:
Hyperextension happens when your back gets pulled, bent, or twisted beyond its normal capacity. This type of injury can happen when your body gets whipped around during a car accident. You can hyperextend your back even if you do not strike your back.
The back-and-forth whipping forces cause your head to pull on your spine. Your vertebrae separate and pull the back ligaments and tendons. When you come to a stop, your spine snaps back, compressing the discs. These forces can injure your back.
Blunt trauma happens when an object strikes your back without breaking the skin. The force transmitted to your back through a blunt impact can break bones and tear soft tissues.
Blunt trauma can result from hitting the ground in a slip and fall accident. They can also result from an impact from a vehicle or other heavy objects. Getting hit by a car in a pedestrian accident can cause blunt trauma.
Penetrating trauma occurs when an object impacts and pierces your back. As a result, you suffer an open wound that can bleed and become infected.
These injuries can happen in a workplace accident involving a fall onto a sharp object or an object that gets propelled into your back. For example, an accident involving a nail gun could cause a penetrating back injury.
What Are Some Examples of Back Injuries?
Back injuries can take many forms depending on the back structures that get damaged. Some types of back injuries you can suffer in an accident include:
Back Strain and Sprain
Back strain happens when your back muscles and tendons get hyperextended. The stress on your back stretches or tears these muscles and tendons.
Symptoms of back strain include:
- Muscle pain and spasms
Back sprains happen when an accident causes the ligaments holding your spine together to hyperextend.
Symptoms of a sprained back include:
- Spine pain
- Limited range of motion
- Popping in your back during the accident
A mild strain or sprain will heal without medical treatment in four to six weeks. Your doctor will likely prescribe rest and ice to reduce any inflammation.
The back-and-forth whipping you experience in an accident compresses your spinal discs. The pressure can cause the discs to deform and press on nerves near the spine.
A herniated disc happens when the gel inside the disc forms a protrusion on the side of the disc. A bulging disc happens when the disc flattens and the sides bulge outward.
Doctors cannot repair a herniated or bulging disc; they can only remove the damaged disc. After removal, they either replace it with an artificial disc or simply fuse the adjacent vertebrae without a disc between them.
A broken back is one of the most dangerous injuries you can suffer. The spinal canal runs through a gap between the bodies and processes of the vertebrae. When a vertebra fractures, the broken pieces of bone can dislocate into the spinal canal and sever the spinal cord. A severed spinal cord will produce partial or total paralysis.
How Can You Obtain Compensation for a Back Injury?
If you suffer a back injury in the course and scope of your job, you can seek workers’ compensation benefits. Under Illinois law, you can receive full medical and partial disability benefits for most back injuries.
When someone else’s negligence causes your back injury, you may have a claim for compensation. You can pursue compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills and lost wages, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.
A back injury can cause significant income losses. It can also erode your quality of life. Our lawyers from Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers will investigate your case, gather evidence, and negotiate with the insurance companies to get you a fair settlement. Don´t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation at (312) 929 2884 to discuss the compensation you can seek for your back injury and its effects.