According to statistics compiled through studies sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control, the leading public health institute in the US, more than one million people suffer a slip and fall or trip and fall accident in the United States every year. The results of these falls range in the extreme, from no harm to the person to as many as 17,000 deaths a year. Commonly reported, are injuries to the back, including:
- Back Strain vs. Back Sprain
Initially, the person who has fallen may not be able to distinguish between a back strain and a back sprain because the immediate symptoms are similar. Typically, pain, back spasms and limited mobility accompany both types of injuries. The difference lies in the type of tissue that is injured; a strain involves injured or torn muscle and a sprain occurs where back ligaments are stretched beyond their normal limits. Due to the relative strength of the back ligaments, a sprain is most often the result of greater trauma than that which causes a strain. A back sprain is considered a more serious back injury than a strain.
This is a condition where one vertebra in the back slides over the vertebra below it on the spinal column, most often occurring in the lower back. The impact from a fall can be the trigger that causes this misalignment.
Many refer to radiculopathy as a pinched nerve. It can result when the bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons surrounding the spine are damaged. The trauma to one of these types of tissue causes the root nerve in the spinal cord to compress and become inflamed.
- Vertebral Fracture
As the name implies, a vertebral fracture is a break in the bones that comprise the spinal column. Although more often occurring in the lower and middle portions of the spine, a fracture can occur anywhere and may be categorized as mild or severe.
If you have experienced a fall, you should be aware of the possibility of injury that does not immediately manifest itself; symptoms from latent injuries may take days, weeks or perhaps months to develop. This is particularly true when it comes to your back. Often some pain and stiffness will be immediately perceptible, but the more serious problems are masked and will not heal without specific treatment.
Seek Medical Treatment
Many people are embarrassed by falling and make the mistake of thinking they will heal by themselves. The reality is that you cannot make that diagnosis yourself; it is far better to have a trained medical professional make that evaluation.
If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, you may have a personal injury claim. If your slip and fall accident was due to an unsafe condition created by the owner or controller of some real property or the failure to correct or warn of the problem, you may be able to recover damages under a premises liability theory. It may be in your best interest to speak with an experienced DC personal injury lawyer to determine if you have a cause of action.
A special thanks to our friends and co-contributors at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their added insight into the common back injuries reported by slip and fall victims.