Back injuries take longer to heal

Q: Why do back injuries take such a long time to heal?

A: There are many reasons why injuries to the back and neck can take several months to heal.

First, it is important to know that any injured part of the body relies on adequate blood flow to the affected area in order to heal. Your spine has hundreds of ligaments, including discs, attached to it. These ligaments receive relatively little blood flow. Therefore, when the spine and its ligaments are injured, the healing process is usually slow.

Also, each vertebra has several joints connecting it to an adjacent vertebra. The more joints that are injured, the longer the healing time.

An injured extremity, such as an arm or leg, can easily be rested and allowed time to heal undisturbed. In contrast to a limb, your back is in constant use while you are upright. Even when you are just sitting, your back muscles are at work. This continual stress and strain is another reason why back injuries take longer to heal.

However, complete inactivity (i.e., bed rest) probably isn’t the best answer either, depending on the extent of your particular injury. Total inactivity usually slows the healing process (because blood flow is reduced and back muscles are weakened). But too much exertion isn’t good either. Therefore, you have to find out what activities may help or hinder the recovery from your injury. Consider getting an evaluation from a back specialist. A chiropractor can determine what exercises will hasten your recovery and identify activities to avoid.

A chiropractor can also adjust the spine to correct any misalignments, which will also speed the healing process. Such adjustments reduce nerve pressure and improve blood circulation to the site of the injury.