The back and neck together make up the spine, which can be divided into three distinct areas: cervical vertebrae (neck), thoracic vertebrae (upper back), and lumbar vertebrae (lower back). Each segment of the spinal cord and its vertebrae are surrounded by discs, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves—and pain can result if any of those are parts are injured.
DIAGNOSING BACK AND NECK INJURIES
Injuries to the back and neck can cause pain in multiple locations throughout the body. As a result, diagnosing the specific cause and location of an injury is sometimes very difficult. Doctors will use the patient’s medical history, observations of the patient, and objective tests to come to a conclusion. X-rays, MRIs, and CT Scans are regularly used.
COMMON TYPES OF BACK AND NECK INJURIES
- Thoracic spine injuries: injuries to the upper back, which connects the ribs and the chest area, and usually the most serious. Sprains and fractures in the thoracic spine are usually caused by high force auto accidents and may result in permanent nerve damage.
- Lumbar spine injuries: the lumbar spine is made up of the 5 largest vertebrae and the strongest muscles needed to keep the spine stable. Consequently, a sprain or strain in this area can be particularly painful. A sprain is when there is actual damage to the ligaments, and a strain is when ligaments, tendons, or muscles and over-stretched. Sprains and strains to the lumber spine may limit movement and cause swelling, bruising, and tenderness.
- Herniated discs: between vertebrae are discs that separate the vertebrae and protect the spine. A herniated disc is when a disc is moved out of place. Usually herniated discs place pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves that surround it. Herniated discs can cause sudden and intense pain in the low back and numbness in the legs.
TREATMENT FOR BACK AND NECK INJURIES
- Spinal fusion: done to repair a herniated disc or fractured vertebrae. During a spinal fusion, the surgeon fuses 2 or more vertebrae together by using a bone graft or metal implants. Patients are usually admitted to the hospital for a few days during surgery and then need several months of rehabilitations afterwards.
- Laminotomy/Laminectomy: both of these procedures seek to decompress the spinal cord or surrounding nerves to relieve pain from herniated discs or bone spurs. During a laminotomy and laminectomy, the lamina—a bone that covers the spinal cord—is removed in whole or in part.
- Vertebroplasty: this is a minimally invasive surgery performed to relieve pain from spinal compression fractions. Doctors inject cement into cracked or fractured vertebrae to stabilize the bone.
- Epidural injections: these injections are commonly used to help people deal with pain in many locations of the body, including the back and neck. The injections provide temporary relief for pain; but unfortunately, do not fix the cause of the pain.
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Rafi Law Firm has helped countless clients who have suffered back and neck injuries. If you have suffered a back or neck injury, contact us.