Back Injuries from Bicycle Accidents

Back Injuries from Bicycle Accidents

Riding a bike is a healthy activity, to be sure, but if you collide with a motor vehicle, strike something in the roadway or lose control of your bike for whatever reason, you risk sustaining a back injury.

Back injuries are more than just a sprain or strain, though these can be aggravating and painful. Your spinal column consists of 26 bones and 24 vertebrae. Between the vertebrae are thin areas of cartilage called discs.

You have 5 major regions in your spine–cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccyx. Many back injuries occur in the cervical area since it contains the thinnest and most delicate vertebrae that have great flexibility. Most back problems are in the lumbar or lower back region since all of your body’s upper weight weighs on the lumbar vertebrae.

Some of the most common types of back injury caused by bicycle crashes include:

  • Strain and sprains
  • Compression fractures
  • Spinal fractures
  • Nerve damage
  • Disc herniation
  • Sciatica
  • Paralysis

Strains and sprains are annoying but can also prevent you for a time from engaging in physical activities including performing your own job. Most treatments are rest and ice followed by heat. If the pain is severe or lasts longer than a week, then therapy or chiropractic care can help.

A sudden injury can cause a disc to push against its outer ring and put pressure on it, causing pain. If it breaks through the outer ring or herniates, it can produce sciatic pain as this can inflame the nerves and cause numbness and weakness in your legs. If your vertebrae were already degenerating, this could accelerate the process. A herniated disc can also result in loss of bladder or bowel control, though this is uncommon.

Compression fractures are broken vertebrae with pain usually felt in the thoracic and lumbar regions. Pain can be sharp and long-lasting. Generally, this is treated with pain medication, rest and therapy but surgery is recommended if your pain lasts more than 2 months and is disabling.

The most serious back injuries are those that damage the spinal cord and result in paralysis, complete or partial. Complete paralysis is that which is below the point of injury. Incomplete refers to retention of some feeling or movement below the area of injury. Paralysis usually involves loss or complications with respiratory, bladder, bowel and sexual functions. With any kind of injury, prompt medical attention is vital to preventing further injury as well as in promoting faster healing.

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