back pain smallAccidents leading to injury and trauma can happen to anyone [1, 2]. Many times, injuries can be asymptomatic especially if they are deep, so we tend to ignore them. We barely pay attention to medically important signs called ‘red flag sings’ by doctors, such as experiencing pain when lifting a bucket or not being able to walk properly. This can be extremely dangerous especially as the neck and spine (back) are involved. Most people will have a minor back problem at some point of time in their lives [3]. The question remains though- when do we know if a back injury is serious? This article will help you to gain a deeper insight into the seriousness of back injuries.

Ideally, all back injuries should be considered as serious unless proven otherwise. As with any injury, the first sign is pain which is body’s way of telling you that a muscle or a bone has been injured and needs to be protected for further use [3]. An injury to the back can have an impact on the spine which is a storehouse of the nervous system. An injury can be considered serious when:

  • Post injury, the head or body is contorted in an unnatural or unusual position [1].
  • Numbness or tingling sensations radiate through the arm or leg.
  • There is inability to move the arms or legs.
  • Weakness in the back, neck or limbs.
  • Difficulty in standing and walking.
  • The person complains of weakness, numbness or paralysis or lacks control of his or her limbs, bladder or bowels.
  • An on-going change in the person’s level of consciousness indicates a serious spinal injury [2].
  • Shock: where the injured person has blue lips and semi-consciousness
  • Dizziness
  • A stiff back or neck lasting beyond a week

When a person sustains a back injury, it is important to know how to handle the injured person with utmost care. The person must be kept still to prevent any movement and must be rushed to the hospital immediately.

Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD