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Common Causes of Lower Back Pain After a Car Accident

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Lower back pain is a common symptom among people who have been involved in a car accident. It can range from mild discomfort to severe pain and have a significant impact on your quality of life.

There are many causes of back pain. That’s why it’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible if you’ve been involved in an accident. A doctor can examine you, determine the cause of your lower back pain, and begin treatment. The goals of treatment are to relieve pain, improve mobility and function, and prevent long-term consequences.

You may also be able to recover financial compensation for your injuries.

What could lower back pain mean after a car accident? Here are some possibilities.

Herniated or Bulging Discs

A herniated disc (also known as a slipped disc, bulging disc or ruptured disc) is a condition in which the soft tissue between the spinal vertebrae ruptures, and the soft, jelly-like center pushes through the solid, rubbery outer layer. This condition can put pressure on the nerves in the lower back area, causing pain and discomfort.

Herniated or bulging discs can cause a variety of symptoms, including pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the lower back and legs. Victims may have difficulty walking, standing, sitting, or sleeping. Treatment may include rest, physical therapy, medications, and in some cases, surgery.

Spinal Fractures

A spinal fracture is a break or crack in one or more of the bones in the spine. It is a serious injury that can cause significant pain and discomfort. Spinal fractures are most commonly seen in high-speed collisions, such as those that occur on highways. The force of the impact can cause the spine to twist or bend unnaturally, leading to a fracture.

Spinal fractures can cause a range of symptoms, including severe pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the lower back and legs. There can also be damage to the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis or difficulty breathing. Treatment for spinal fractures may include immobilization, surgery, physical therapy, and pain management.

Muscle Strain

A muscle strain is an injury that occurs when muscles in the lower back are stretched beyond their normal range of motion. This can be caused by a sudden and forceful movement of the body during the impact of a collision. The result is tearing in the muscle fibers. The muscles then become inflamed and painful.

Muscle strains can cause a variety of symptoms, including pain, stiffness, and limited mobility in the lower back. Treatment for muscle strains may include rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), physical therapy, and pain management. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.


Sciatica is a condition that occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down through the legs, becomes compressed or irritated. It can cause pain, tingling, or numbness in the lower back and legs. Car accidents can lead to sciatica if the impact of the collision causes a herniated disc or fragment of bone to press on the sciatic nerve, or less commonly, directly damages the sciatic nerve itself.

Sciatica can cause a variety of symptoms, including pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the lower back and legs. Treatment for sciatica may include physical therapy, medications, and in some cases, surgery.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a condition where the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord and nerves, becomes narrowed. This can put pressure on the nerves in the spine, causing pain and discomfort. Spinal stenosis can occur during the sudden and forceful impact of a car accident.

Spinal stenosis can cause a variety of symptoms, including pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the lower back and legs. In severe cases, it can also cause bladder or bowel dysfunction. Treatment for spinal stenosis may include physical therapy, medications, and in some cases, surgery.

Diagnosing and treating lower back injuries

Always get medical attention if you’ve been in a car accident. If you are experiencing lower back pain, a doctor will ask you questions about the symptoms you are having and perform a physical examination. This may involve testing your range of motion, strength, and reflexes in your lower back, legs, and feet.

Imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs may also be ordered so your doctor can get a better look at the structures of your lower back. These tests can help to identify any fractures, herniated discs, or other abnormalities that may be causing your symptoms, as well as other injuries that may have occurred alongside your lower back pain (such as damage to the internal organs).

In some cases, your doctor may also give you a diagnostic injection, such as a nerve root block or facet joint injection. This can help pinpoint the exact source of your pain.

Based on the results of these tests, your doctor can make a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options, which may include medications, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery. It's important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any lower back pain or other symptoms after a car accident, as early intervention can lead to better outcomes.

Treatment for lower back pain will depend on many different factors, including the type and severity of your injury. It may involve rest, ice, heat, and the use of pain medication. Physical therapy may be recommended to help gradually strengthen the muscles in your back and improve your range of motion.

In some cases, epidural steroid injections, nerve blocks, or facet joint injections may be used to treat lower back pain. And in severe cases, surgery may be required to repair a herniated disc or fractured vertebrae, for example.

An experienced Houston car accident lawyer can help you recover compensation

The diagnosis and treatment of a lower back injury sustained in a car accident can leave you with medical expenses that seem overwhelming. You may also not be able to work because of your injury, resulting in a loss of income. This can lead to a period of financial stress as you wonder how you will be able to pay your bills.

If a negligent driver caused the accident that left you injured, you shouldn’t have to pay. But negligent drivers often deny doing anything wrong. Insurance companies aren’t on your side, either. They’ll use many different tactics in an attempt to justify limiting your compensation.

That’s why you need an experienced Houston car accident lawyer who can fight for you. The attorneys at Smith & Hassler know how to build strong cases that get results and are committed to helping you get the best outcome possible. We’re proud of the verdicts and settlements we’ve obtained for our clients and are ready to fight for you.

If you’ve suffered lower back pain after a Houston car accident, it’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. We can discuss your options and answer any questions you have.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this article, “Common Causes of Lower Back Pain After a Car Accident.”

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