Types of Back Injuries

Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries are common outcomes in many types of personal injury accidents. Back injuries occur most often in auto accidents, falls, sports incidents, and acts of violence such as shootings. The spinal cord and surrounding nerves and muscles are complex parts of the body. When they suffer any type of injury, the effects can last a lifetime. The most severe back injuries, such as paralysis, are incurable. Learn about several different types of back injuries that may arise in a Sacramento personal injury claim.


Whiplash is a neck soft-tissue sprain or strain injury that occurs most commonly in car accidents (namely, rear-end collisions). Whiplash can affect the muscles, ligaments, discs, joints, and nerves in the neck and upper back. Symptoms can include pain, stiffness, headache, tingling, and dizziness. Serious whiplash injuries can also impact the victim’s neurological system, causing cognitive changes such as memory loss, trouble concentrating, anxiety, or depression.

Treatment for whiplash injuries can include anti-inflammatory and anti-pain medications, a cervical collar, and physical therapy. Whiplash is generally not a permanent injury, although the victim can suffer neck and back pain for weeks or months after the incident. Most patients take around three months to recover fully. Some will suffer chronic pain, muscle tension, and headaches even after the point of maximum recovery.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to pressure on nerve routes and the spinal cord, due to a narrowing of the spinal canal from a traumatic injury. Impacts from car accidents are the most common cause of spinal stenosis injuries (other than natural stenosis from aging), where fragments of bone or a ruptured spinal disc invade the spinal canal. Spinal stenosis can cause symptoms such as lower body weakness, burning or tingling sensations in the lower body, back pain, and pain while walking or standing. Treatment involves physical therapy, rehabilitation, and medications. These injuries can cause temporary or even permanent disability.

Herniated Disc

A herniated disc in the spinal cord refers to the rupture or slippage of a disc between the vertebrae in the back. When something like a car crash or a fall places pressure on the spine, the jelly-like disc can herniate. Symptoms of a herniated disc include pain, difficulty moving, numbness or tingling in the body, muscle weakness, and arm or leg pain. The rupture itself might not cause any pain, resulting in delayed diagnosis if accident victims don’t seek medical care right away. Herniated spinal discs typically heal with pain relief medications and physical therapy, or surgery in more extreme cases.

Spinal Cord Fracture

A fracture of the spinal cord refers to a broken vertebra. Spinal fractures can take the form of small fissures in the bone with temporary symptoms such as pain, numbness, or muscle weakness. A fracture could also sever the spinal cord, causing the most serious types of spinal cord injuries. A severely fractured spine could cause permanent, irreversible loss of movement and sensation below the point of injury (paralysis). Serious spinal cord injuries are incurable, but patients may recover some feeling or mobility with surgery, physical therapy, massage, and rehabilitation.

Sprain or Strain

A back sprain or strain isn’t as serious as a spinal cord fracture, but it can still be a painful and temporarily disabling injury. A facet joint injury, for example, affects many nerve endings and can cause a great deal of pain for victims. Facet joint injuries generally go away with anti-inflammatory drugs and rest. Other muscle or joint sprains and strains in the back can also cause debilitating pain and require time away from work to recover.

After any type of back injury, contact a personal injury attorney in Sacramento. The spine is a delicate part of the body. Victims deserve legal representation after someone else’s negligence causes serious injury.