Back pain is a common debilitating disorder that can be triggered by different causes. Some cases of upper or lower back pain naturally come with age as the spine and its structures degenerate. However, there are also incidents where chronic pain arises from serious injuries from sudden and unexpected situations, such as car accidents.
So how do you manage upper back pain from an auto accident? Upper back injuries from a head-on or rear-end collision should be immediately seen and treated by a doctor. If your spine isn’t severely injured, you can benefit from some rest, pain medication, and ice or heat therapy. Otherwise, you’ll require upper back pain treatments like epidural steroid injections, nerve blocks, physical therapy, spinal cord stimulation, and minimally invasive spine surgery.
All drivers are responsible for adhering to road traffic rules and regulations. However, there’s always the risk of getting into a collision when other individuals overlook basic safety reminders and go over the speed limit, run red lights, or drive with distractions. Some accidents may also be caused by poor road infrastructure or car defects.
According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, road crashes are the leading cause of fatality in the United States and about 4.4 million experience a serious auto accident injury that requires medical attention. In fact, car accidents cost more than $380 million in direct medical costs in the US alone.
When you get in an accident, the number one part of the body that is most vulnerable is the spinal cord. Although it’s flexible and durable, the spine can suffer serious injuries or permanent damages from the massive impact of car collisions.
The cervical spine, which runs from the base of your skull to the neck and upper back, is the region that’s most likely to be injured in an auto accident. Your lower back, or lumbar spine, may also incur some damage that can result in acute low back pain.
No car accident victim should be left alone after an unfortunate incident. Regardless of whether it was a devastating wreck or low impact collision, you should immediately go to the emergency room to get yourself checked. If you have no signs of serious physical symptoms, your doctor may clear you to go home and monitor your condition.
As soon as you’re in the comfort of your home, there are several remedies that you can do to manage the lingering upper back pain from the car accident. Here are some of the things you can do to get upper back pain relief:
After suffering a tremendous amount of physical stress from the accident, your body needs to rest and recuperate. For the following days after the incident, avoid doing strenuous activities and take some time off work to let your body recover and heal with some bed rest. During this period, you should also frequently hydrate to boost your immune system and speed up the healing process.
Another common form of home remedy for upper back pain is taking painkillers and anti-inflammatories. Over-the-counter pain relievers and NSAIDs can reduce discomfort from post-accident headaches, upper back pain, and soft tissue injury and inflammation. If you’re experiencing nerve damage or pain, you may also be given prescription-strength painkillers to provide relief.
Auto accidents may also result in strained muscles or stiffness in your upper back. Taking muscle relaxants can help get rid of the tension that causes upper back pain and discomfort. They can also minimize soreness and improve your flexibility and motion as you recover from the incident.
You can also try applying a cold compress or hot pack over the affected muscles in your upper back. Using ice will help manage swelling in your tissues and ligaments and will reduce nerve activity to lessen overall pain. Meanwhile, using heat therapy can improve blood flow and deliver oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This will stimulate joint repair and minimize muscle soreness, stiffness, and inflammation.
If you have persistent severe pain after an auto accident, it’s best to consult with a pain management specialist immediately to receive a proper diagnosis and medical treatment. In some cases, your upper back pain may be caused by a spinal injury or fracture where home remedies may not be enough.
At Gramercy Pain Center, we have a team of physicians who can provide quality care and interventional pain therapies that can help you on your road to recovery. Our team can recommend the best treatment depending on the severity, location, and type of injury that’s causing your upper back pain. Here are some of the upper back pain treatments that we can recommend:
It’s not uncommon to experience some difficulty moving your joints and muscles after a car accident. In addition to upper back pain, you’ll also feel discomfort in your neck, shoulder, and head.
A physical therapist can help get you back on your feet with stretching and strengthening exercises to reduce inflammation in the affected muscle and soft tissue. They’ll help speed up the healing of your upper back, neck, and shoulder pain while helping you regain optimal function and mobility. You may also combine physical therapy with chiropractic care to help you gain better relief and have a faster recovery.
An epidural steroid injection involves the administration of a corticosteroid or anti-inflammatory medication to the damaged or irritated spinal nerve roots. It’s given directly to the epidural space which is the area around your spinal cord.
The goal of epidural steroid injections is to relieve pain from a neck, back, or shoulder injury after a car accident. It also helps manage discomfort from a spinal cord injury. Most patients likely need more than one injection to achieve long-term relief.
This treatment involves the injection of a local anesthetic solution to the affected nerves to ease your upper back pain. It’s sometimes administered along with an anti-inflammatory medication to stimulate the repair of the damaged nerves. Nerve blocks are given in a minimally invasive procedure where a small needle is inserted into the treatment area to inject the solution. The doctor will also use ultrasound or fluoroscopy to ensure that the anesthetic is delivered properly.
Patients with severe spinal cord injuries can also benefit from spinal cord stimulation. During this treatment, a device is placed under your skin and it will produce mild electric currents to inhibit pain signals from reaching the brain. This treatment is usually recommended only to individuals who have chronic upper back pain that isn’t responsive to initial therapies and medications.
Another option when pain relief drugs and other home remedies fail is to get a minimally invasive spine surgery. It’s less risky and requires fewer incisions compared to traditional spinal surgical procedures. The goal of this treatment is to stabilize the spine and remove tissues or slipped discs that are compressing certain nerves. Some of the common types of minimally invasive spine surgeries are spinal fusion, discectomy, and lumbar decompression.
The sudden impact of a car collision violently shakes your body which results in physical trauma and injuries. Most car accident victims feel dizzy, disoriented, and numb right after the incident. This may be followed by the onset of pain from broken bones, injured muscles, torn ligaments, and damaged facet joints and tissues.
There are also cases when upper back pain symptoms show up days or weeks after the auto accident. This is due to the adrenaline rush that takes over your body and masks the feelings of body pain. Once the adrenaline surge is over, you’re likely to notice discomfort and experience other reactions to the auto accident injury. Some swelling and inflammation may also appear after several days after the accident.
Yes, some car accident victims can still feel lingering pain from the accident even after several years. This is likely the case if the individual didn’t receive proper treatment and their underlying injury has developed into chronic pain.
To avoid suffering from long-term upper back pain after an accident, you should immediately seek medical care after getting in a collision. You should also monitor your condition and watch out for delayed symptoms after a car accident. Here are some of the common late reactions that may indicate a serious injury:
Not all car accident injuries are the same. There are different kinds of back, shoulder, and neck injuries that can result in upper back pain after an auto collision. Here are some of the common types of injuries that can happen from a car accident:
Car accidents often result in injuries that cause upper back pain. If you’ve been involved in an unfortunate collision, you should immediately go to a doctor to assess the severity of damage to your upper back and spine. From epidural steroid injections, nerve blocks, and physical therapy, there are many options to relieve your upper back pain and restore your quality of life.
Gramercy Pain Center is a trusted pain management clinic that provides quality care and treatments to car accident victims. We offer a wide variety of interventional pain management solutions that can minimize your upper back pain symptom and address other signs of spinal injuries. Contact us now to schedule a consultation and get a treatment plan for your condition.