Type of Injury
The lower back has a big job to do.
The lumbar area is part of the lower back, which helps stabilize the spine and support a person’s upper body weight as they move around throughout the day. When the lower back is injured, the pain can be absolutely debilitating, making it hard to work and to live your day-to-day life. It’s estimated that the costs of lower back pain total over $100 billion each year in healthcare costs, lost wages, and diminished productivity.
Causes of lower back injuries
Lower back pain is an extremely common problem. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives and it can be caused by a very wide range of things. While many of those causes are the result of things like moving heavy objects or conditions like osteoporosis and pregnancy, it’s also very often caused by a traumatic accident, such as a car accident, a slip and fall accident, or a workplace accident.
Common types of lower back injuries
Muscle sprains & strain
When an accident occurs, a person can be hit with enough force to make their body move in ways that it’s not used to moving, resulting in muscle sprains or strain. Muscle sprains occur when ligaments are stretched or torn, while muscle strain occurs when a muscle or tendon tears or is overstretched. Even mild muscle sprains and strains can be extremely painful.
In an accident, it’s very easy for vertebral discs to get fractured and there are a few ways vertebrae can be fractured:
Compression/Burst Fractures: Compression fractures occur when a vertebral disc becomes crushed and compressed, which can be caused by things like car accidents or falling from a height. In a compression fracture, the disc is compressed in the front part of the spine. If a disc is fractured in a way that it is crushed in all directions, it’s considered a burst fracture, which is more severe than a compression fracture.
Distraction Fracture: In cases when vertebrae are pulled apart, that is called a distraction fracture and it’s a type of fracture that can occur in car accidents when a person is wearing a lap seat belt, but their upper body is pushed forward.
Transverse Process Fracture: If the force of an accident causes a person’s body into an extreme sideways bend, it can result in a transverse process fracture.
Spondylolisthesis is an issue that occurs when at least one of the wing-shaped parts of a vertebrae disc is fractured, causing the disc to slip out of place. Cases of spondylolisthesis can be considered a high-grade slip or a low-grade slip. A high-grade slip occurs when over 50% of the width of the fractured vertebra slips forward of the vertebra underneath of it.
A herniated disc occurs when the spinal disc cushioning an individual vertebrae disc slips out of place, putting pressure on neighboring nerves and causing pain that spreads to other parts of the body, such as the legs. They can be caused by a sudden or jerking movement, so many different types of accidents can potentially cause a herniated disc.
Spinal stenosis is a condition that isn’t necessarily directly caused by an accident, but it can be the result of other lower back injuries that are, like herniated discs. It occurs when the spinal canal becomes narrowed, putting pressure on nerves. When spinal stenosis develops in the lower back, it can cause pain in the legs and/or back or numbness in the foot and/or leg.
Categorizing back injuries
Lower back pain can be divided into one of two categories: subacute low back pain or chronic back pain. Subacute low back pain is a type of lower back pain that lasts between 4 and 12 weeks while chronic back pain lasts for 12 weeks or longer. In some cases, doctors may also categorize injuries to the lumbar area as being “low energy” or “high energy,” depending on the rate of speed involved in the accident that caused the injury.
Occupations with a high risk of back injuries
While back pain is an extremely common problem, many people have jobs that put them at a higher risk of sustaining a back injury at work. While many jobs come with occupational hazards, employers have a responsibility to make sure their employees aren’t facing an unnecessary amount of danger. This can mean taking measures like making assistive devices available to help move heavy items, allowing time to rest, and providing adequate training about how to work safely.
Some occupations with a high risk of back injuries include:
- Construction workers
- Warehouse workers
- Landscapers and agricultural workers
- Truck drivers
- Factory workers
- Janitors and other maintenance workers
Damages in a lower back injury claim
A back injury can have a profound impact on your life. When your injury is the result of another person’s negligence, some types of damages you can make a claim for include:
- Medical expenses, including expenses for future care
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages and diminished earning abilities
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
Contact a Los Angeles back injury lawyer
Lower back injuries are nothing to take lightly. If you’ve been in an accident that injured your lower back, it can be very hard to live your life normally. At The Wallace Firm, we’re here to help you deal with a difficult situation. Our back injury lawyers have helped many accident victims just like you and are ready to fight for you to get the compensation you need while you recover. Contact us today for help with your claim.