New York is home to a staggering 12 million licensed drivers.
Unfortunately, it’s also home to many negligent and even reckless drivers.
In New York City alone, 16,931 vehicle collisions occurred in December 2019. More than one in five of these crashes resulted in injuries and fatalities.
Today, traffic-related injuries are the main cause of injury-caused deaths in the state.
While not all vehicle crashes result in death, many still cause back injuries. However, the pain may not occur right away.
So, in case of back pain after car accident: what to do and who should you call first? Is it even normal for back pain to occur days after the crash?
We’ll answer all these questions in this post, so be sure to keep reading!
In one study, 37% of people involved in a crash said they had low back pain six weeks after the accident. Some had moderate back pain symptoms, while others had more severe back pain.
Another study found that 56% of 27 auto accident patients experienced discogenic pain. Another 36% had sacroiliac joint pain, while 19% had facet joint pain. What’s worse, these low back pain symptoms had a median duration of 24 months.
A separate study looked at the pain symptoms experienced by older adults involved in a crash. Seven in 10 of the 161 participants said they had moderate to severe pain during their ED evaluation. Six months after the accident, one in four of the patients still had moderate to severe pain symptoms.
Low back pain was a common complaint among these older adult patients.
These are only three of the many other studies proving that back pain is common after car accidents. What’s more, many cases come with delayed signs, with them occurring days or weeks after the crash. Many others suffer from severe and even debilitating symptoms that persist for years.
All these should tell you that your back pain is highly likely related to your car accident. These stats also indicate that back pain after a car crash is unlikely to disappear on its own.
As with potential whiplash injuries, you should see a doctor as soon as you notice back pain after a car crash. It may take a day or two before your back starts feeling sore or downright painful. A herniated disc, for instance, may have no symptoms at first until the disc irritates a nearby nerve.
Either way, don’t dismiss your symptoms, as delaying treatment can aggravate your condition. Untreated musculoskeletal injuries can cause permanent muscle, spine, and nerve damage. In fact, a study proved that low back pain caused by a vehicle crash raises the risk for future troublesome LBP.
It’s best to get a medical evaluation even if you don’t feel any symptoms. If you can, schedule a check-up within 72 hours. This way, your treating doctor can run comprehensive diagnostic tests.
These often include x-rays, vision tests, nerve studies, as well as CT and MRI scans. These medical exams will uncover injuries that don’t display any symptoms yet. Aside from back injuries, traumatic brain injuries can also have delayed symptoms.
The sooner you see a car accident doctor, the better your chances of full recovery. Besides, prompt physical therapy or chiropractic treatment can ease your painful symptoms. This can then help you get back on your feet (and work) sooner.
If you’ve been in a work-related crash in New York, check your workers’ compensation policy first. You may have to see a treating doctor if your employer has a preferred provider organization (PPO). If not, then you can choose your workers’ comp doctor.
Only after complete diagnosis can a back pain doctor develop the best treatment for you. This is another reason you should see a medical professional as soon as you can after a car crash.
Your treatment will depend on the type and severity of the injury you sustain. The first line of treatment, however, usually involves physical therapy and chiropractic care. For severe car accident back pain, you may need medication for pain and swelling.
If your tests reveal a more serious spinal injury, you may have to undergo surgery. An example is a thoracic spine injury in where bone fragments press against the spinal cord. You may need surgery to remove these bones to prevent permanent spinal cord damage.
Your doctor’s diagnosis will reveal if your car accident is the cause of your back pain. If it is, then your medical reports will be key evidence when you file a personal injury claim. If the crash is work-related, you would need to submit this when filing a workers’ comp claim.
Failure to follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment can exacerbate your back injuries. If this happens, the other driver’s insurance company can use this to counter your claim. You may end up shouldering your future medical expenses.
Once your doctor confirms that the crash is to blame for your back pain, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer. This is especially true if the other driver was partially or completely at fault. You may be able to sue the other driver if your condition meets the “serious injury” threshold in New York.
These serious injuries may include bone fractures and significant disfigurement. If your back pain renders you disable for 90 days, you may also sue the other driver. Significant or permanent limitation of a body function is also a type of serious injury.
There you have it, your ultimate guide on back pain after a car accident: what to do and who to get in touch with ASAP.
The most important thing is your health, so consult with an auto accident doctor right away. This way, you can get the necessary treatment to prevent long term back pain problems.
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