Back Injury

Injuries to the spine include strains, sprains, subluxations, bulging, protruding, or herniated disks, arthritis and fractures.

A strain is an injury that affects muscles or tendons. Tendons attach muscles to bones. A strain results from over stretching or over contraction.

A sprain is an injury that affects ligaments. A ligament attaches bone to bone. Sprains can range from a mild stretch to a complete tear.

A subluxation is when one or more vertebrae (bones of the spine) move out of position and create pressure on, or irritate, nerve roots that exit the spine.

An intervertebral disk acts as a cushion or shock absorber between the vertebrae. The disk is made of a tough outer layer called the annulus fibrosis. Inside the disk is a gel-like substance called the nucleus polposus. When one has a bulging or protruding disk the nucleus polposus pushes on the annulus fibrosis distorting the shape of the disk. The amount of distortion is measured in millimeters. A herniated disk occurs when the nucleus polposus pushes through a tear in the annulus.

Facet joints in the spine are small stabilizing joints located between and behind adjacent vertebrae. The facet joints provide twisting stability in the spine. When the facet joints are worn or torn arthritis can develop.
The vertebrae are composed of the vertebral body, transverse process, and the spinous process. The vertebral body can sustain a compression fracture. The processes can be broken out during trauma.

There are numerous diagnostic tests used to evaluate the back. An x-ray is a film that images bony structures. It can reveal the presence of fractures or misalignment of the vertebrae. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a non X-ray study which allows an evaluation of the spinal cord and the nerve roots. A CT scan (computed tomography), is a specialized X-ray study allowing for careful evaluation of the bone, nerve roots, and spinal canal.

A Myelogram (injection of a dye or contrast material into the spinal canal) is a specific X-ray study that also allows careful evaluation of the spinal canal and nerve roots. An EMG (electromyogram) is a test that evaluates nerve and muscle function. A nerve conduction study is a test that evaluates the sensory nerve function of the nerves.
There are numerous causes for back injuries. Often the cause will be a single event, where the tissues at some vulnerable spot in the back are stretched beyond their usual tolerance for stress. Treatment for back injuries include passive physical therapy (hot packs, ultrasound, cold packs), active physical therapy (range of motion exercises, stretching, strength conditioning), medication (pain medication, anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants), epidural steroid injections, TENS unit (transcutaneous electro-nerve stimulator), which sends electrical impulses to block pain signals, and a number of different surgical procedures. Back injuries are responsible for both acute and chronic pain, and temporary and permanent disability.

For related information go to: Actions Against Common Carriers, Bus, Train, Plane Accidents, Chronic Pain Syndrome, Footdrop, Insurance Bad Faith, Forklift Accidents, Intervertebral Disk Injuries, Medical Malpractice, Myofascial Pain, Negligence Law, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Nerve Injuries, Pain, Paraplegia, Premises Liability and Radiculopathy.

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