A major back injury is any injury that interrupts your ability to function in your day-to-day life. The duration of back pain can often categorize as a major back injury. Whether caused by overwork, stress, strain, or a traumatic injury, damage to muscles, ligaments, and the spinal cord can become severe, especially if left untreated.
What Is Considered a Major Back Injury?
Any back injury from an accident resulting in missing work or a change in your ability to perform your job is a major back injury. If back pain keeps you from enjoying a game of catch with your child for more than a few days, it may be a significant back injury.
Some examples of major back injuries include:
- Bulging, herniated, ruptured, or collapsed discs
- Torn discs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Compression fractures
- Neck injuries
- Fractured vertebrae
- Damaged nerves
A medical professional should check back pain that lasts more than four weeks.
Causes of Major Back Injuries
Most structural back injuries result from:
- Severe falls
- Car or motorcycle accidents
- Direct impacts to the back
- Impacts on the head
Some back pain can be from day-to-day things such as sleeping wrong. However, if you have continuing pain or were involved in an accident, you should seek medical attention.
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What Is Considered a Minor Back Injury?
Soft-tissue injuries are typically minor. These consist of strains, sprains, and general soreness of muscles and tendons. This injury often results from twisting, lifting, or other motions stretching the soft tissue. Physical conditioning can affect your back, such as being overweight or having weak back muscles.
Sports are a leading contributor to back injuries. Football, hockey, baseball, weightlifting, and other sports that require players to push and pull increase risks. Other causes of minor back injury include:
- Tripping and falling
- Yardwork or additional physical labor
- Lifting improperly or weights that are too heavy
- Poor posture
- Poor workout habits
According to Cleveland Clinic, the signs of minor back injury include:
- Worsening pain when you move
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulty walking or standing straight
- Decreased range of motion (ROM)
Most minor back injuries heal within two weeks. For pain lasting longer than two weeks, you should seek a medical diagnosis.
When a Minor Back Injury Becomes a Major Back Injury
A minor back injury that becomes chronic could be a sign of worsening problems. You should seek medical care if your back pain lasts more than two weeks, gets worse, or if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Pain that interrupts your sleep
- Unusual swelling or a lump with an odd shape
- Weakness in the hands or feet
- Numbness near the injury or in your leg
- Inability or difficulty walking
If you have past injuries to your back, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor as a precautionary measure. Frequent injuries can signal a chronic problem.
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Spinal Cord Injury vs. Back Injury
Spinal cord injuries are more severe than back injuries. The difference is that most back injuries are musculoskeletal. Spinal cord injuries are neurological and affect the function of your body. Spinal cord damage can result in changes to bodily functions below the point of injury and may cause paralysis.
Two main factors determine the effects of a spinal cord injury:
- The location of the damage (neurological level)
- The severity of the injury (completeness)
Severity, or completeness, can be:
- Complete means that all feeling and motor control below the injury is lost, resulting in tetraplegia (quadriplegia) or paraplegia.
- Incomplete describes some sensory or motor function below the injury.
According to Mayo Clinic, some signs of a spinal cord injury include:
- Severe pain in the neck, back, or head
- Difficulty with coordination
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Altered or lost sensation to hot and cold
- Lost sensation to touch
- Pain, numbness, or stinging sensations due to nerve damage
- Difficulty breathing
After an accident, if you suspect you have a spinal cord injury, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Acute vs. Chronic Back Pain
The most significant difference between acute and chronic back pain is the duration of pain. Acute pain typically arrives suddenly but can be controlled with alternating heat and cold and over-the-counter pain relievers. Symptoms subside within a short period, typically two weeks or less.
Chronic pain can hit quickly or set in over time. It will last longer than acute pain, sticking around for six or more weeks. Another sign of chronic pain is that it can be recurrent.
The symptoms of acute and chronic back pain can be similar. Your doctor may recommend maintaining a pain log to document duration, intensity of pain, and other factors that will assist in making a more accurate diagnosis.
Getting Help for Back Injury Medical Costs after an Accident
Suppose you have a major back injury from an accident that wasn’t your fault. A free consultation may benefit you. The back injury team at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers can evaluate your case and determine if you can receive compensation for your injury. To find out your eligibility for financial recovery, contact our office.