Car crashes can cause forces that seriously damage the neck and back. Critical to bodily fuction, they are vulnerable to sudden movement and force. Thinking back to high school physics class, picture a car slamming into another object. The inertia of the opposing force sends everything in the car moving quickly in that direction. This unfortunately includes human bodies inside of the vehicle. There’s only so much room in a car, of course, so the body will hit with great force and speed whatever is in its way. The seat belt, door, dashboard, or some other object will stop that forward momentum. This force generates extreme pressure on the neck and back. Modern machines are capable of exerting forces the human body was simply not designed to withstand. Modern engineering has made great strides to mitigate these potential injuries, but even a defensive driver wearing a seat belt properly is still vulnerable in a car accident.
This jerking motion is also known as whiplash. Whiplash can cause serious injury to the spine. Neck and back injuries can be both debilitating and extremely painful. Below I’ll describe one of the most common types of painful injuries to the spine, discogenic injuries.
Discogenic pain, or disc pain, occurs when the spinal discs deteriorate with age or from sudden, acute trauma, i.e. a car crash.
Most people experience disc pain in the lumbar, or lower, spine area. Lumbar sprains, spinal stenosis, herniated disc, and degenerative spinal disorder are all common types of disc pain.
Lumbar sprains: These are typically caused by excessive force on the back, such as lifting a heavy object, sports injuries, or a car wreck. These traumas cause the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the back to stretch too much. Excessive stretching like this is commonly called a sprain or strain. Imagining often misses these injuries and instead are diagnosed by a doctor experienced with recognizing the signs.
Spinal stenosis: Stenosis refers to an abnormal narrowing of a body channel. Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the bone channel that houses the spinal nerves and spinal cord. Natural aging commonly causes this, but a trauma such as a car accident can as well. In these cases, a ruptured disc or bone fragment is invading the spinal canal space, applying pressure to the nerves or cord and causing pain.
Disc Herniation: A common injury to the cushion-like discs that separate your vertebrae is known as disc herniation. This occurs when the soft inner filling of the disc protrudes through the tougher outer encasing. This rupture by itself is often not painful, however the protruding material then often comes in contact with surrounding nerves, which very much does cause pain. Herniated discs can go by many other names, some slang and some used by medical professional, but they all generally refer to a very similar injury.
Degenerative Spinal Disorders: Degenerative disorders encompasses many different injuries and symptoms that all relate to the breaking down of the spine or its parts as the body ages. Degenerative Spainal Disorders can causes any number of injuries, conditions, or pains, including: Spinal osteoarthritis, Degenerative disc disease, Bulging discs, Herniated discs, Spondylolisthesis, Degenerative scoliosis, Bone spurs, Spinal stenosis, Foraminal stenosi, Pinched nerves, Sciatica.