When you are in a minor car accident, you are often sore for a few days, but then the soreness fades away and all that's left are your scary memories of the accident. But what if it has been a week or more since your accident, and your back is still sore? Chances are, you did more than just bruise yourself or pull a muscle. Here are three types of back injuries that may be to blame when you still have back pain a week after your accident.
There are discs of cartilage found between each of your vertebrae. When you are in a traumatic accident, these discs can get pinched, causing them to bulge out to one side. This injury is known as a slipped disc, or sometimes a herniated disc. It causes pain and soreness along the side of the spine. The pain generally gets worse when you touch the affected area.
Slipped discs usually heal without surgery, but this can take some time. You will want to see a chiropractor to adjust your spine in a way that takes pressure off the injured area. Your doctor may also show you some exercises to do to strengthen the muscles around the injured disc, thus easing your pain. In more serious cases, you may need steroid injections to encourage your body to heal and to reduce inflammation.
Another reason for lingering pain is ligament damage. Ligaments hold together the bones in your spine, and if they become strained, they take a long time to heal since there is little blood flow to the tissue. Often, ligament damage is associated with muscle spasms, so you may have waves of pain that come and go. Most ligament damage occurs in the lower region of the spine, along the lower back.
Minor ligament tears will eventually heal with rest and perhaps some cortisone injections. However, more serious tears will need to be surgically repaired.
Another possibility is that swollen muscles in your back are pressing on one of the nerves leading out of your spine. This feels a lot worse than it is. You may have spasms of sharp pain, stiffness, and throbbing. Applying ice to the sore area and taking over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen, can help. Your doctor can also prescribe muscle relaxers to help alleviate the pressure on the nerve.
If your back pain is lingering after a car accident, seek car accident spinal treatment sooner rather than later.