DBD Pain Series: Motor Vehicle Collision Upper Back Pain

As opposed to lower back and neck pain, upper back pain is often the least most studied pain. Your upper back may be quite a bit more resilient, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be affected in an accident. Vehicle safety has come a long way in helping mitigate upper back injuries. Let’s take a look at the anatomy of the upper back and how modern cars have helped stabilize this region.

Anatomy of the Upper Back

Your upper to middle back houses your thoracic spine (sometimes referred to as the dorsal spine), the longest portion of your spine. There are twelve vertebrae in the thoracic spine each with a corresponding thoracic nerve. Instead of curving inward like the cervical and lumbar spine, your upper back curves outward. In addition, your thoracic spine also connects to your ribs which form the thoracic cage. This section of your body provides protection for your lungs and heart, two very important organs. Your thoracic spine starts just below your neck and ends below your ribs. It is incredibly stiff due to the presence of the ribs and requires a great amount of force to fracture. Since the lower portion of the thoracic spine has larger vertebrae, the upper portion tends to fracture more often. Though fractures are difficult to obtain, disc herniation or slippage of the upper back is not uncommon after motor vehicle collisions.

Vehicle Seat Belts

Modern cars come equipped with three-point seat belts (restraints extending across the lap and diagonally across the torso) on most, if not all, seats. These innovative safety features were introduced and patented by Volvo in 1959. In a gesture of good will, Volvo made the seat belt free for other car manufacturers to use. Prior to the three-point seat belt, cars only had lap belts. While this stabilized the lower portion of the body during collisions, the upper body was often thrown around, resulting in frequent upper back pain. With the addition of the chest restraint, upper back spinal fractures have been significantly reduced.

Have Upper Back Pain after a Motor Vehicle Collision?

Even with modern vehicles, some studies show that upper back injuries are increasing. Though there are vehicle safety advancements and an overwhelming public use of seat belts, people involved in head-on collisions are more likely to experience upper back spinal fractures. If you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident and are experiencing upper back pain, give The Advocates a call anytime. During your free consultation, an experienced personal injury attorney will walk you through seeking relief and compensation for your upper back pain. Our back injury attorney will help you make your recovery our top priority.


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