Back Injury

Your back is more than just your spine. It’s a complex network of bones, nerves, ligaments, muscles, and other tissues. If you’re in an accident or suffer another kind of trauma, the sheer number of components that make up your back means that there’s a relatively high chance of injury. 

As you might have guessed, a back injury can be one of several types of injury. Here’s what you should know about the most common types of back injuries and how they’re treated.

What Makes Up Your Back?

What Makes Up Your Back?

To understand the different kinds of back injuries, you first need to understand the anatomy of your back

Here’s a look at some of the back’s main structures:

Overall, your back is a strong and well-protected structure. But it can’t withstand unlimited trauma.

Common Causes of Back Injuries

Some back injuries are caused by serious, acute events like car accidents, but not all are. These are some of the most common ways back injuries happen.


Falls — and especially falls from significant heights — can cause broken bones and other serious injuries. If you fall hard enough, you might suffer a serious back injury. Depending on the angle of your fall, you also could injure or completely sever your spinal cord.

Lifting Heavy Objects

Any time you pick something up, your back supports the weight. When an object is very heavy, it’s possible to fracture a vertebra, rupture a disk, or suffer a strain or sprain. However, you should keep in mind that lifting even relatively light objects can make you hurt your back. This is especially true if you don’t lift with proper form. 

Remember to lift with your legs — not with your back!

Playing Sports

Many types of sports (and especially contact sports) can put significant stress on your back. Some (like weightlifting) involve regular stresses that can sometimes cause overuse injuries. But others (like tackle football) can expose you to the kind of sudden impact that can cause an acute injury.

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

In some cases, medical issues you already have can make back injuries more likely. For example, if your spinal discs are already degenerating, you may be more likely to rupture one. If you have osteoporosis, you might be more likely to suffer compression fractures of your vertebrae.

Sudden Impacts

Your back is designed to be able to absorb shock. But the kind of shock that comes with being suddenly hit can cause your back to abruptly snap forward or backward, causing fractures, strains, sprains, and even injuries to your nerves and spinal cord.

It’s a common misconception that only high-speed car crashes and other impacts can cause back injuries. Even accidents that happen at low speeds can be forceful enough to have serious consequences.

Types of Back Injuries

Your back is deceptively complex, so if you do suffer an injury, you need a doctor to diagnose it. These are some of the possible types of back injuries:

Sprains and Strains

These are common, usually mild injuries. Most people mix up the terms or mistakenly use them interchangeably. A strain is an injury to a tendon or muscle, while a sprain is an injury to a ligament. These injuries typically heal with rest in about two weeks. However, if there is a complete tear, you might need surgery.

Ruptured/Herniated Discs

The discs between your vertebrae are like jelly doughnuts: each has a layer of tough outer cartilage (the “dough”) and softer inner cartilage (the “jelly”). If they are injured, the outer cartilage can tear, causing the inner cartilage to push outward. That pushing can cause nerve root irritation or inflammation. 

Whether the rupture causes pain directly (by touching the nerve root) or indirectly (by causing inflammation that irritates the nerve root), it can bring severe discomfort. The injury might require cortisone injections to reduce inflammation. If injections don’t resolve the problem, you might need surgery.

Vertebral Fractures

Sometimes, your vertebrae can be fractured or broken. Older people experience these fractures more often than younger people because their bones weaken over time. However, falls, car accidents, and other kinds of trauma can cause vertebral fractures in people of any age.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Car accidents and motorcycle accidents are the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. Injuries to your spinal cord can be partial or complete. In a “complete” spinal cord injury, you completely lose feeling and movement in the area below the injury. In an “incomplete” injury, you have partial feeling and/or movement in the area below the injury.

It’s important to note that even if you have a serious spinal cord injury, you might not have symptoms at first. Even paralysis and numbness can happen gradually.

Facet Joint Injuries

Sometimes, the joints connecting your vertebrae can be fractured or dislocated. The cartilage between them can also tear. These kinds of injuries are common in car accidents — when an impact is sudden enough to make your spine “snap” forward or backward, the force can damage your facet joints.

In many cases, these injuries can be treated with rest, physical therapy, or cortisone injections. However, in severe cases, they might need surgical repair.

Have You Suffered a Back Injury?

Back injuries can be minor, life-altering, or anything in between. But sometimes, even minor injuries can result in costly medical bills, an inability to work, significant physical pain, and disruption to your daily life. At Matos Personal Injury Lawyers, we believe that if you aren’t the one responsible for your injury, you shouldn’t be left to deal with the fallout alone.

Our Lakewood personal injury lawyers have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for injured people like you. If you now have a back injury because of someone else’s actions, we might be able to help you ease the financial burden the injury has caused. Contact us at (720) 912 7274 or stop by our Lakewood office to schedule your free case review.