Back Injuries – Explained

Back Injuries

Back injuries can rain on your parade like nothing else. Your back is probably the most under appreciated yet uncared for part of the body. More often than not, the back suffers an injury at least once in a person’s lifetime. Back injuries are not just the result of car accidents or falls. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to developing back injuries and this article will tell you all about it.

It is important to be aware of the different causes of back injuries, especially the ones that you have control of so that you can prevent having these injuries. There are four common types of back injuries. These are acute back strain, chronic back strain, vertebral compression fracture, and herniated disk.

Acute Back Injuries

When a patient is diagnosed to be suffering from acute back strain the patient has torn (in part or fully) muscles of the back. Another case is the acute back sprain diagnosis; this is when a patient has torn (in part or fully) ligaments that support the back. The most common symptoms are back pain and stiffness that is aggravated by any strenuous activity. Back strain and back sprain are the two most common back injuries, whose treatments include simple stretching exercises, pain medications, and getting enough rest.

Chronic Back Strain

A patient who has chronic back strain or pain has been diagnosed to have recurring back pain caused by overuse. Sprains happen the moment your back moves beyond its standard range of movement. Like most back injuries, chronic back strain is characterized by stiffness in the back that can migrate or radiate down to the legs. Chiropractic care and physical therapy are two of the most common treatments for chronic back strain. Activities of daily living should be evaluated and altered to remove the stressors of the condition.

Vertebral Compression Fracture

Some back injuries are sometimes aggravated by certain medical conditions. For example, when you are suffering from osteoporosis or certain types of cancer, you are at risk of having vertebral compression fractures. This back injury happens when you have a ‘broken’ or compressed  vertebra. In case you didn’t know, your spine is composed of a group of bones called the vertebrae (the singular form is vertebra). An injury that caused one vertebra to become squeezed in between two adjoining vertebrae results in vertebral compression fracture.  The symptoms include tenderness in your back and pain that is felt more intensely when you move, usually severe. The spine may also appear to curve abnormally.

Herniated Disk Back Injuries

A herniated disk could be the most painful and most difficult back injuries and can cause sciatica, numbing, pinched nerve or severe lower back pain. It occurs when the soft tissue inside a disk in the spine is pushed outside a weakened disk wall, forming bulges along the side of the disk. The bulge is made more prominent when the disk is subjected to a lot of stress like when lifting heavy objects. Many of cases occur in the lower back (like at L5 or L4); however, herniated  discs (disks) are common in the cervical spine as well neck. Symptoms include severe back pain that radiates down to the legs, (or arms and hands from a disc in the neck like C5 or C6) numbness of the leg and foot, and difficulty in walking.

Knowing all these four types of back injuries is very important especially when you or a family member is showing signs and symptoms of back pain. Being aware of the symptoms of these back injuries will also help your doctor to accurately diagnose your injury.

Posted from Lakewood, Colorado, United States.

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Ron Spallone

Dr. Ron Spallone, DC is the chiropractic clinic director. His passion is the driving force behind Denver Chiropractor dot com. He's been a Colorado chiropractor for over 15 years.

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  1. January 24, 2011, 1:49 am

    I think I am going to need to visit with a physician. I am having terrible issues w/ my lower back.

    • Dr. Ron
      January 25, 2011, 4:36 pm

      You may want to consult a proficient chiropractor who treats car accident injuries in your area. If you need help finding someone where you lives who treats whiplash, let me now.

  2. February 1, 2011, 5:17 pm

    Hello Doc, I have typed in car accidents and have gotten to your site before. I do alot of PI and personally I like it the most, I think we all do.
    Would you like to cross link our sites. If someone needed a chiropractor in Denver I would gladly send them to you, based on your reputation.

    You may want to consult a proficient chiropractor who treats car accident injuries in your area. If you need help finding someone where you lives who treats whiplash, let me now.
    I see you did the art croft seminar and I have always wanted to do it. I think I will do it too, he’s sharp and good.

  3. Kim Rawks
    March 9, 2011, 2:09 pm

    My brother-in-law was in a car accident that involved a police officer (and the policeman was at fault!) Anyway, he wasn’t seriously injured but the city government settled with a nice amount of money. He and my sister had to sign something saying they wouldn’t come after the city later if injuries popped up. The first thing he did was go to a chiropractor to see if there were any problems.

    • Dr. Ron Spallone
      March 10, 2011, 12:57 pm

      Thats a tricky one. When patients ask “what do I do after a car accident?” I usually recommend emotional rest. Many rear-end accidents can cause concussions and it really taxes the entire system of the person involved. They should decrease your mental burdens for a few days as to not stress your system. Following that, when patients may ask, “what is the best kind of treatment for ac ar accident?”, well, it depends. There are a number of distinct and separate injuries from car accidents. I like to treat the acute injuries (the ones which involve no fractures or dislocations), with laser therapy to start.

    • S.A. Baker
      October 11, 2011, 2:36 pm

      I am not sure if this will get to you, but Kim if you would contact me I have a few questions about the accident your brother in law was involved in. You can email me at

      thank you

  4. Emily D.
    March 9, 2011, 6:52 pm

    Oh sure – car accidents can cause all kinds of problems immediately and in the future. My sister has a bad knee from an accident – and it took over a year after the wreck for it to start hurting. I bet in Denver with the snow and ice people get in even more whiplash type care accidents from the weather and sustain injuries from the motor vehicle crash. Is chiropractic care for a car accident necessary immediately after the accident?

  5. Dr. Ron
    January 25, 2011, 4:08 pm

    All things happen for a reason. The bigger the problem the more profound the lesson, usually.

  6. Dr. Ron
    January 25, 2011, 4:33 pm

    In a whiplash accident the neck goes through some pretty violent motions. And you are right, I have seen people who ‘feel fine’ afterward and then a few days or weeks later can hardly move… weird, but I’ve seen it dozens of times. After a car accident injury I just think it’s wise to get checked.

    After the ambulance and ruling out any fractures or dislocations the best thing to do is find a chiropractor who is very familiar in treating car accident injuries. I really like using laser therapy right after the accident because it is non-invasive and it can provide significant pain relief and healing. Sometimes people don’t even want to be touched, let alone have an adjustment, and who can blame them. But with the laser therapy, you can begin the healing process right away.

    Our clinic, Evocare Center for Physical Health is in Lakewood, CO 3500 South Wadsworth Boulevard, Suite 302
    Lakewood, CO 80235-2054

  7. Dr. Ron Spallone
    May 14, 2011, 3:36 pm

    It is very common after a car accident to suffer a mild traumatic brain injury. Concussion type symptoms that can occur like fatigue, forgetfulness, general malaise, insomnia and depression definitely can take a mental toll. It is a project and a process to manage the patients after an injury. What you bring u is one of the main reasons why I suggest having a chiropractor on the team to mange to healing after the injury. Most MDs are only used to seeing their patients every blue moon. Substantial injuries from a whiplash or motor vehicle accident need true TLC.

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