The more you understand your body and how it functions, the better equipped you'll be at taking care of yourself to achieve optimal health. We've included the Patient Education section on our website to provide you with valuable, practical wellness information which you can incorporate into your lifestyle to improve the quality of your life. We hope you will turn to these pages whenever you have a question about health related issues and urge you to contact our practice at any time to make an appointment with one of our doctors.
Healthcare industry workers sustain nearly five times more back injuries than any other type of worker and are among six of the top 10 professions at greatest risk for back injury, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Back injuries are sustained in a myriad of ways and some people are more likely to develop back pain and injury than others. Some people incur back injuries from doing seemingly nothing; a simple twist or turn the wrong way in bed, for example, could cause a vertebra to go out of alignment. Others incur injury at home or one the job, while others sustain back injuries from traumatic events such as a vehicular accident.
Back injuries can be sustained on any number of structures in the spine. Although lower back injuries are the most prevalent, many people have sustained injuries to the thoracic (middle spine) or cervical (neck) portions of their spinal cord. Injuries can occur to the vertebrae, discs, nerves, joints, muscles, and other soft tissues. Once an injury has been incurred, other parts of the body-from the toes to the head-can also be affected.
Common types of back injuries include:
- Overuse injuries - These are the kinds of injuries that occur during the course of everyday activities, such as housework or exercise. Symptoms may include pain, muscle spasms, and stiffness.
- Acute or traumatic injuries - These injuries occur after an unexpected event, such as a fall, a sports injury, a job accident, or motor vehicle accident. If you think you have sustained a traumatic back injury, STAY CALM AND DO NOT MOVE until help arrives. It is very important to keep your back as immobile as possible following a traumatic injury as moving may worsen the injury.
If a fracture involves the spinal column but not the spinal cord, there is a good chance that long-term paralysis will be avoided. Fractures to any of the spine's components, such as the vertebrae, joints, or discs, could affect the spinal cord and its more than 60 nerve roots.
Some people incur compression factures to the vertebrae. In these kinds of injuries, the vertebrae can be crushed. Compression fractures are more common in the thoracic (middle) and cervical (neck) portions of the spine, since the lumbar vertebrae are the largest and sturdiest. Other kinds of injuries, such as twisting or impact injuries, can cause a fracture to vertebrae or joints.
You may have incurred a serious back injury if you have:
- Back pain that follows a severe injury, such as a motor vehicle accident
- Been struck forcefully on top of the head or fall hard onto the buttocks
- Fallen from a height of 15 feet or more
- Incurred a direct blow to the spine with a moving object
- Incurred a sports-related injury
- Sustained a penetrating injury, such as a gunshot wound or stab wound
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Numbness or tingling in the buttocks, genital area, or legs
- Pain in the upper back that occurs with chest pain that is crushing, squeezing, or feels like a heavy weight on the chest or that occurs with any other symptoms of a heart attack
- Signs of shock
- Weakness in the legs