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Spine Injuries Explained

In order to understand a back injury that was sustained in a car accident, you must first understand the anatomy of the human spine. The neck, also called the cervical spine, consists of the top 7 vertebrae (bones) of the spine. The bones are identified by the letter C (for cervical) and then the number of the bone, counting from the top. So, C3 is the third cervical vertebrae from the top.

The thoracic vertebrae are located below the cervical spine, and consist of the 12 vertebrae starting at the bottom of the neck. The ribs attach to these thoracic vertebrae in the back. They are identified by the letter "T" and the number of the bone, counting from the top. Below the thoracic vertebrae, beginning in the low back area, are the 5 lumbar vertebrae (L1 through L5), then the sacrum (S-1), and then the coccyx.

Disc Injuries

Between the bones in the back are spongy discs that allow us to bend over, twist or make other movements with our spine. When these discs sustain damage in a car accident, they will sometimes bulge or herniate. A bulging or herniated disc can cause a person to experience intense burning, aching, or stabling pain in their back.

Nerve Injuries

When a disc is herniated or bulging, it can injure the nerves that travel down and exit the spinal canal. The nerves that exit the spine in the cervical area travel into the arms and hands. This is why injuries to the nerves in your cervical spine sometimes cause radiating pain to travel down through your arms. The nerves that leave the spinal canal in the lumbar spine area travel to the legs and feet, so injuries to the nerves in your lumbar spine might cause radiating pain in your legs.

Back Sprains

The tendons connect our muscles to bones in the spine. When tendons are overstretched, they can end up tearing. This type of injury is called a sprain, and can cause a person to experience back or neck spasms. These injuries can range from very serious to minor irritations that heal quickly. Know that doctors often diagnose a back injury as a sprain or strain only to find out later that the injury is much more serious.

Dealing with Insurers

There are many serious things that can happen to your spine after suffering an injury in a car accident. Although spinal injuries can cause lifelong problems, insurance adjusters will often discount injuries as only a “sprain or strain,” or just a soft tissue injury that should heal quickly. Because of this, many people end up suffering permanent damage because they are unable to get approval from their insurer for the medical care their injury requires.

Let Our Attorneys Handle Your Case

At Buchanan, Williams & O'Brien, P.C., our team of lawyers help clients who have suffered devastating back injuries in car accidents. We can review the details of your case and make a strong legal strategy to secure the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys won’t collect any fees from you unless we win your case.

Call (314) 635-7606 today to schedule your free initial consultation with our car accident lawyers in St. Louis.