When you have been in a car accident, it is not uncommon to experience back and neck pain from the force of impact. Even when you are wearing your seatbelt and the airbag deploys, your body is still jolted into unnatural positions and this can put significant strain on the spine. Many symptoms of a neck or spine injury after a car accident can present similarly because the pain and discomfort may affect multiple areas of the body. Additionally, some symptoms can be delayed and you begin to experience them hours and even days later, which can add to the confusion and discomfort after a car accident. That is why it is important to seek out medical care right away to find out exactly what is causing your pain and identify areas of concern. Your doctor may be able to easily identify and treat your injuries, or more significant interventions such as spinal stenosis surgery may be required.
Identifying Spinal Stenosis
One commonly misunderstood condition that can be developed after a car accident or further aggravated after car accident injuries is known as spinal stenosis. The spine and its various nerves are housed inside the spinal column, and spinal stenosis refers to a condition where the spinal column narrows. This narrowing of the spinal column can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, which leads to a variety of symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling. Because these symptoms are common with other types of spine and neck car accident injuries, it is important to discuss these with a spine specialist.
Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis
Common symptoms of spinal stenosis include pain in the neck and back area and along the spine and numbness through your shoulders, arms, and legs. You may also experience a tingling sensation and even weakness in your arms and legs. Identifying symptoms of spinal stenosis can be tricky because they are similar to symptoms of other injuries, especially if you have been injured in a car accident. Your symptoms may differ from another person’s experience, which is why it is important to discuss any pain and discomfort you may be feeling after a car accident with a spine doctor right away.
Diagnosing Spinal Stenosis
Spine doctors and spinal stenosis surgeons are knowledgeable and equipped to help identify and diagnose spinal stenosis with their years of experience and advanced medical technologies for diagnosis such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. Your doctor may want to X-ray the spine and neck to get a better view of the spinal column and identify any particular areas of narrowing which might compress the spinal column. Your doctor may also choose to see a 3D image of the spine with an MRI, which can show more detail, including potential damage to discs. A CT scan is similar in that your doctor can see a 3D X-ray of both the spine and its surrounding soft tissues.
Treatments of Spinal Stenosis
Depending on your individual case, the severity of spinal stenosis, and where and how the spinal column is narrowing and causing concern, treatment options can vary from less invasive treatments such as pain relievers, chiropractic care, and physical therapy. However, when spinal stenosis is severe and more conservative treatments are not as effective, spinal stenosis surgery may be required.
Spinal Stenosis Surgery
Spinal stenosis surgery is performed by spine doctors who specialize in this area and in injuries to the spine. Additionally, spinal stenosis surgery is not a one-size-fits-all treatment, and your spine doctor can discuss your surgical options with you depending on your individual case. Some surgical interventions include procedures that make more room for spinal nerves, such as a laminectomy and foraminotomy. Another surgical procedure called a spinal fusion may also be considered in order to improve spinal stability.
Recovery from Spinal Stenosis Surgery
As with any surgical procedure, the recovery period can vary from person to person. However, with any type of spinal surgery, it is important to anticipate a long recovery period that includes support from physical therapists and rehabilitation practices to support a full recovery. Swelling and stiffness are common after a surgery, and physical therapists can work with you to gradually decrease discomfort and incorporate more range of motion back into your daily life.
At AICA Orthopedics, your team of spine doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, and more are all housed in one convenient location. From diagnosis to recovery, your team of medical providers are all in one office and work together to provide you with convenient, comprehensive care and the treatment you deserve.