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Should You Get an MRI For Back Pain After a Car Accident?

Should You Get an MRI For Back Pain After a Car Accident

Lower back pain from a car accident can fall on a spectrum from agitating to debilitating. The impact from a crash subjects the spinal column to a tremendous force, causing a range of issues, such as dislocations, herniations, soft tissue damage, and nerve injuries.

It is important to get treatment immediately after an accident when you experience back pain.

As of March 2022, there were 3,071 injuries from car collisions in New York City. Many of these individuals require advanced testing procedures for physicians to understand the full scope of their condition.

Aside from physical examination after an injury, diagnostic tests like x-rays and computed tomography (CT) scan imaging (also called computerized tomography) help identify problems.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an essential diagnostic tool used to identify back injuries after an accident. Some people have a delayed onset of symptoms and get a referral for MRI scans for lower back pain weeks or months after an accident occurs.

Brooklyn Open MRI provides testing in a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for our patients.

What Causes Back Injuries in Car Accidents?

What Causes Back Injuries in Car Accidents

A car collision sets your body in motion until a seat belt, airbag, or something inside or outside the vehicle stops it. The impact (even at low speeds) causes a violent whipping motion along the spinal column’s length.

Many people are generally familiar with neck whiplash injuries in accidents, but they may not realize the severe effects on the lower back due to sudden impact.

Depending on the physics of a crash, the lower vertebrae and soft tissues are vulnerable to extensive damage, especially in a rear-end collision. Your injuries from an accident could be difficult to detect without advanced diagnostic testing.

It is important to have MRI scans after a car accident to help diagnose the extent of your back injury so you receive the correct course of treatment.

How Does an Accident Affect Your Lower Back?

How Does an Accident Affect Your Lower Back

Severe low back pain, spinal pain, or leg pain associated with damage after a car accident can lead to chronic conditions that result in a loss of mobility. Getting an early and accurate diagnosis is crucial for your well-being because a serious low back injury from a car accident has wide-ranging physical, psychological and emotional effects.

When the lower back takes the brunt of an accident, the lumbar spine is adversely affected. These are the integral parts of the lower spine:

  • Five vertebral bones (L1-L5)
  • Intervertebral discs (spongy discs between vertebrae)
  • Muscles
  • Ligaments
  • Nerves
  • Blood vessels

Magnetic resonance imaging uses modern and advanced technology to get detailed images of the body structure and organs. When other tests do not detect damage to the lumbar region, spinal imaging MRI for back pain provides a comprehensive view of bones, spinal cord, soft tissue, and blood vessels.

A radiologist reviews the information from the MRI scans and prepares a report for your physician. For people suffering from a lower back injury, this is a necessary first step toward finding answers and starting on the road to recovery.

What Are Back Injury Symptoms?

What Are Back Injury Symptoms

A car accident will likely leave you feeling sore throughout your body. Radiating back pain can present as another type of injury. Trying to explain where it hurts can be frustrating when a back injury is to blame.

These are common types of lower back pain resulting from a car accident:

  • Stiffness
  • Dull aching pain
  • Acute pain
  • Burning sensation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tingling or numbness (legs and feet)
  • Weakness in legs
  • Foot drop

If the source of the problem isn’t clear, doctors frequently make a referral for an MRI to pinpoint the concerns. When sending the referral to a clinic, they include information about your condition that helps a radiologist determine how to conduct the scan.

This is good news for patients because this diagnostic test helps isolate injury areas with great precision.

What Lower Back Injuries Occur in Car Accidents?

What Lower Back Injuries Occur in Car Accidents

Back injuries take many different forms after car accidents. However, there are five main categories of injuries that commonly occur:

  1. Strains and sprains: Back strains occur when soft tissue stretches and bruises, resulting in damage. Back sprains result from ligament damage where it connects to bones impairing movement.
  2. Discogenic pain: Spinal disc damage causes sharp and shooting pains. The discomfort can radiate through the legs, feet, buttocks and groin area.
  3. Herniated disc (Herniated disk): Herniated (bulging) discs happen when the soft, spongy inner part of the disc pushes through the outer ring, causing numbness, burning and weakness. Lumbar disc herniation (lumbar disk herniation) can affect the lower back.
  4. Spinal stenosis: narrowing of the interstices in your spine, often in the lower back or neck, that puts pressure on spinal nerve roots.
  5. Spondylolisthesis: A vertebrae stress fracture that affects nerves and the spinal canal, making walking difficult due to weakness, numbness and pain.
  6. Facet joint injury: The joints situated between nerves and bones in the spine affect your ability to bend and twist when injured.

Having an MRI to detect lower back injuries is imperative because they could lead to chronic or debilitating outcomes when left untreated.

An experienced diagnostic radiologist knows what to look for during an MRI scan and makes critical decisions about how to perform a test to aid in the diagnosis of your condition. Also you may have other existing conditions that magnetic resonance imaging could detect, like degenerative spine disease or a spinal infection.

How Does an Open MRI After Car Accident Help Patients?

Many individuals still think of the MRI process as being inside a tunnel for hours and having to remain completely still. For people with anxiety issues or claustrophobia, requiring this test was out of the question without sedation.

An MRI machine that is open on all sides (no tunnel) is a great relief for most people. While remaining still is necessary during the testing process, individuals are immediately more relaxed with the open MRI scan performed in a comforting atmosphere. The process is easy, painless and takes 15 minutes to an hour to complete.

Get an MRI for Lower Back Pain in Brooklyn, NY

Get an MRI for Lower Back Pain in Brooklyn, NY

After a car accident, you may need an MRI for back pain. Brooklyn Open MRI is a team of board-certified medical professionals who are highly skilled in diagnostic testing. Our AIRIS II MRI System employs advanced technology to record detailed information about your medical condition.

Our goal is to provide you with excellent care, so don’t hesitate to ask questions about any part of the process. We accept most of the major medical plans as well as Medicare, Medicaid, Workers Compensation and No-Fault (PIP) insurance. If you live in New York City, contact us to schedule an appointment.