Back Injuries

Chiropractor Rockville, MD

Back injuries are sustained in a many different ways and some people are more likely to develop back pain and injury than others are. Some people incur back injuries from doing seemingly nothing; a simple twist or turn the wrong way in bed, for example, could cause pain to occur. Others incur injury at home or on the job, while others sustain back injuries from traumatic events such as a vehicular accident. Back injuries can be sustained on any number of structures in the spine. Although lower back injuries are the most prevalent, many people have sustained injuries to the thoracic (middle spine) or cervical (neck) portions of their spinal cord. Injuries can occur to the vertebrae, discs, nerves, joints, muscles, and other soft tissues. Once an injury has been incurred, other parts of the body, from the toes to the head, also can be affected.

Nationally, back injuries cost U.S. businesses approximately $30 billion per year, at an estimated average cost per claim of $24,000. If surgery is involved, the cost for claims increases significantly to $40,000 per injury or higher. Its important to take precautionary measures and to educate yourself to prevent having these injuries from occuring in the first place.  It help you live a healthier life, let you enjoy activities without pain, and will save you some money in the long run.

Non-Traumatic Back Injury


This is the type of injury that shows up randomly when bending over or doing a simple daily activity.  This type of injury is usually due to things such as muscle spasming or cramping, which is caused usually by dehydration or electrolyte imbalance.  Stay hydrated with good clean water and make sure to be getting enough electrolytes in your diet.  If you preform a repetitive motion in your job or at home this could also cause a muscle spasm or become inflamed to occur due to overuse, so it's important to make sure to balance your activity accordingly.  If you do right rotation or right handed motion a lot then switch it up and use the left side. Not only does this help balance your muscles, but also is healthy for your brain as well.  Another thing to think about is that muscles move bones, so if you do not properly balance your muscle tone the overused side can misalign your vertebrae giving you other symptoms and adding to your pain.  

Sometimes when doing a simple activity you can herniate a disc and this is because the surrounding muscularture and tissue are not properly supporting your spine.  This can also occur as a result of excessive stress on normal tissue as well, factors such as being over weight can put extra pressure on your spine when doing simple tasks. It is important to also use good form and posture when lifting even light things or doing basic jobs. A few simple tips on proper lifting techniques (Lifting Techniques) can save a lot of extra stress from occuring in your back and can prevent major and minor issues from ever happening.

Another factor in this type of injury is the stress levels and nutritional status of the person involved.  Stress causes release of certain natural chemicals that can cause ligament damage resulting in the ligament becoming more elastic then normal.  The term we use is "ligament laxity" and it makes a person more prone to sustaining injury due to decreased joint stability.  The reason for this increase risk is that if your ligaments aren't strong and solid to hold your bones and tissues in place then an extra bit of pressure here or there can end up causing damage. Consult your doctor if you have questions about ligament laxity or want to learn about stress relief options or proper nutrition for your individual situation.

Traumatic Back Injury

This is the injury you sustain after you fall, trip, or have any other high impact collision with your body.  When you have a traumatic type of injury there is always some level of damage to that tissue and the body sets off an inflamatory response to help you heal.  Often when the injury is in the acute phase (injury very recently occured) there isn't much one can do besides give the proper thermal therapy (Heat Therapy or Ice Therapy). Normally for a traumatic injury you will use ice or cold packs to reduce inflamation and prevent excess swelling and pain from occuring.


 You also want to keep the area mobile, if possible, to prevent muscles from getting too stiff and helping the body lay down new tissue in the proper orientation.  Your body heals itself along the normal planes of motion in your muscles and tissues so if you are completely immobile after a traumatic injury you body heals in multiple orientations resulting in a lump of "scar tissue". You don't want to move an injured area when its very acute, but want to wait at least 3-7 days until it reaches a subacute stage of healing.

Once the injury has moved to a subacute phase we can use muscle testing and some neuromuscular techniques to restore function and balance muscle tone. Often what you see is the muscle that is injuried turns itself off in a protective response to let it heal and prevent more damage from happening. When this occurs the muscle that does the opposite function or motion of the injuried muscle becomes hypertonic (too tight).  For example if you hurt your thigh muscles then they can turn off resulting in your hamstring muscles becoming too tight.  After the injury has healed people can often feel the symptoms of pain in the hypertonic muscle, not the injuried muscle itself, so instead of relying on where the pain is we fix what we find neurologically using manual muscle testing.  Again the injury could have caused some bone displacement due to traumatic force or the resulting muscle dysfunction could have shifted some bones in the spine or extremities, either way manipulation is usually indicated along with the muscle work.

If you have any questions or concerns about injuries please Contact Us and let us know. For more information about how we would treat these conditions or to learn more about them please refer to our Patient Education section and see our Back Pain and Sports Injuries pages.