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Back and Other Places Hurt After an Accident? Here's Why

According to the National Institutes of Health, Americans spend more than $50 million per year for the treatment of low back pain. It is second only to headaches as the most common ailment in the nation.

Most back pain is caused by either trauma or arthritis. Even if you have arthritis, your back pain could be caused or increased by trauma resulting from a car accident or a fall. Back pain that is the result of trauma is commonly caused by bulging, protruding, herniated or ruptured disks. These shock-absorbing disks are located between the vertebrae of your spine. Due to trauma, they can be squeezed out from between the vertebrae, causing problems in other areas.

When the disks are squeezed out, they may press on the nerves of the spinal cord, which are located directly behind the vertebrae. This pressure can result in pain in other areas, called radiculopathy. This is pain that radiates from a certain area of the spine.

Each of your spine's vertebrae has a letter and a number that doctors refer to them by. The top section of your spine is the cervical spine, and its vertebrae begin with a "C". It is followed top to bottom by the thoracic spine "T," the lumbar spine "L" and the sacral spine "S." Therefore, if you had a herniated disk at levels L5 through S1, it would be located at the bottom of the lumbar spine and at the top of the sacral spine.

Each location on the spine is the home to different nerves that run throughout your body. Sciatica, which is pain in the back or side of the lower leg, is caused by injuries to nerve roots at the L3, L4, L5 or S1 levels. Pain in the shoulders that radiates through the arms to the fingers signals problems with nerves at the C6, C7 and C8 levels.

Because of this, you could experience pain, numbness or tingling in areas such as the arms and lower legs even if they were not outwardly injured in an accident. These symptoms are often due to back or spinal injuries that were caused by the accident.

If you are involved in an accident, seek the advice of both medical and legal counsel to ensure that your injuries are properly diagnosed, treated and compensated for.

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