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The neck is the connecting bridge between the spine and the brain. Seven bony vertebrae with cartilaginous disc pads act as cushions between each vertebra of the neck. Neck injuries can be devastating to this important part of your body.
Injuries most often affect the soft tissue muscles and ligaments. Trauma can damage the soft discs between vertebrae. Larger traumatic forces can damage the bony parts of the vertebra causing an even more severe injury. Neck injuries are often caused by motor vehicle accidents, contact sports, or a fall injury. Head, neck and shoulder injuries often occur together.
Types Of Neck Injury And Pain
To begin with, any neck pain should attended to immediately. Damage or strain to the neck will often cause harm to some other part of your body. Often a person with a neck injury will overcompensate for the original pain. This may cause strain or damage something else. Too often, busy people ignore the pain, pop a few aspirin and go on with their lives. If the injury was due to trauma, that can be a mistake.
Neck pain can be a symptom of several different kinds of neck injury possibilities. Usually, after a trauma induced injury, the pain will not appear for several days. That is because of the swelling of the soft tissue.
A physical examination by your physician, as well as x-rays, ultrasounds, and even an MRI, may be needed to determine the exact cause of the pain.
Neck Injuries, Spinal Injuries, and Car Accidents
Cervical spinal cord injuries are those that impact the neck area of the spine. The seven vertebrae in the neck connect the head to the body but are the smallest of all the vertebral bones. This means the chances of suffering a cervical spinal cord injury is higher among all other spinal injuries. Car accidents account for almost half of all neck injuries.
Neck Injuries and Strains
It is estimated that each year there are more than 1 million whiplash injuries. These cervical spinal cord injuries usually affect the lower neck vertebral bones and soft tissues surrounding them.
Immediate signs of cervical spinal cord injuries include a headache, stiffness, restriction of motion, and pain. Severe cervical spinal injuries can cause tingling in the arms or hands, numbness, radiating pain, or paralysis as in cases of spinal fractures.
Misunderstood Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries
Cervical spinal cord injuries resulting in massive strain on the neck are commonly known as whiplash. These neck injuries and their effects are widely misunderstood and often overlooked.
Insurance companies have historically classified whiplash and cervical cord injuries involving strains as a fabricated injury or a minor/lesser damage. The logic used was that minor vehicle damage means minor physical injuries.
The reality is that whiplash and other neck injuries can occur both at low speeds and in minor crashes. The disproportionate masses of the head and body to your relatively thin neck cause it to “whip” out of its normal range of motion during most car accidents, regardless of vehicle damage.
Women and children are more susceptible to strained neck injuries, and symptoms of milder strains and neck injuries can be delayed. Therefore, victims should always see a doctor help them identify symptoms and to diagnose and treat cervical spinal cord injuries as soon as possible.
It is also common for someone suffering a neck injury due to trauma to also have back pain.
Types of Neck Injuries
Crick in the Neck: The term crick or kink describes the morning pain associated with sleeping in an awkward position. It can also occur from working for too long in an immobile position, as well as sudden, sharp movements of the neck during sports or accidents. This is not an actual medical diagnosis, even though the reason behind it may be. Arthritis, muscle spasms, and even a spinal disc condition may be the cause of this kind of neck pain.
Muscle Strain: Strains usually occur as an injury to the muscles along the spine. While it may manifest in the neck, the actual damage may be in the lower back instead. The symptoms of this condition will often include muscle spasms, reduced flexibility, and pain.
Neck Sprain: Sprains are caused by injuries to the ligaments. This can be due to falls or sudden twists that can overload or stress the joints. Symptoms of a neck sprain can include swelling, reduction in flexibility and pain.
Pinched Nerve in Neck: This condition is one of the most difficult actually to diagnose. Assessing nerve pain is not always straightforward because the actual damage could be further along the nerves than the area where the pain is felt, especially when dealing with nerves so close to the spine.
Whiplash Injury: Whiplash-associated disorders is a set of symptoms that occur following any incident where the head is thrown forward, backward, or side-to-side, especially in car accidents.
Herniated Discs: Recurrent neck and back pain may be a sign that you have a herniated disc. This happens when the soft material covering a spinal disc is damaged, worn, or pushed out.
Aging: Simply growing older often causes unexplained neck pain that may be due to arthritis, cervical dislocation, or spinal stenosis. As we age, our bones grow thicker in some places and weaker in others. The elderly are especially vulnerable to trauma induced neck injuries.
Causes of Common Neck Injuries
There are few parts of the body more sensitive to injury than the neck. In some ways, our necks are remarkably stable: in many places, people balance heavy jars and baskets on their heads every day. But sudden trauma, such as car accidents and slips and falls, can subject the neck to forces it cannot withstand. Damage to the muscles and tissues of the neck can cause disability, while damage to the spinal column can be fatal or lead to paralysis.
Slips, trips, and falls are among the most common causes of neck injuries. Falling on a hard floor, for example, can result in a person’s head and neck hitting the ground forcefully at an unusual angle. Trips and falls, even from short distances, can also cause severe head and neck injuries.
Car accidents are also a leading cause of neck injuries. Whiplash injuries are a common result of rear-end collisions. Whiplash occurs when a sudden shock causes a person’s head to whip back and forth rapidly.
Responding to Neck Injuries
If we take the word ‘injury’ to refer to all medical conditions that cause discomfort or pain in the neck, many of us are ‘injured’ every day. The stresses of contemporary life are so great that neck cramps and strain are an everyday thing for millions of Americans. These minor afflictions, far from life-threatening, can be treated with the help of relaxation techniques, exercise, pain killers, and muscle relaxants.
Not all spinal fractures result in paralysis. Any broken vertebra, however, poses a serious risk: mishandling of a patient can cause nerve damage even in cases where the spinal cord was intact. For this reason, it’s imperative that you never move someone who you suspect might have a neck injury.
‘Whiplash’ describes a neck injury, commonly the result of car collisions (especially rear-end collisions) and sports injuries. The head is forced to extend back and forth beyond its normal range of motion in a very small amount of time. Even if it’s not as life-threatening as a neck fracture, whiplash is still a serious injury and requires medical treatment. Whiplash injuries can last a lifetime.
Common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Pain in the arms and shoulders
- Fatigue and dizziness
- Ringing in the ears
- Poor concentration and sleep disturbance
Anyone who has been in a rear-end car collision and is feeling the effects of a neck injury should seek medical attention. After an accident, you should visit a clinic or hospital to get checked out. Sometimes the full effects of whiplash are partially or entirely delayed, only taking effect hours or days after the accident. Only a doctor can determine the extent and severity of an injury and recommend treatment.
If you’ve been injured in a car wreck due to someone else’s carelessness, feel free to contact the neck injury lawyers at The Traub Law Office at (512) 246-9191 or by filling in the contact form.