What Are The Types of Neck Injuries?
Mention the words car accident and neck pain, and most people automatically think, “whiplash”.
But, neck injuries caused by an accident can be much more than a sore and achy neck.
If you got injured and your neck hurts, you may be wondering:
What Happens To Your Neck In A Car Crash?
Read on to learn more.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.
What Causes Whiplash?
The classic cause of whiplash is a car accident. But, why is whiplash so common when it comes to auto accidents?
Traffic accidents can cause many different injuries, especially to the neck. Whether you were hit in your car or on your bicycle, run over, slipped and fell, hit on your motorcycle, or a big truck hit you, the result can be a painful neck.
In a car accident, your body receives sudden force. It moves forward quickly, then it moves backward quickly.
Wearing a seatbelt straps your body against your car seat. But, the seatbelt does not protect your neck. Your neck is unprotected in an automobile accident.
What Are Whiplash Symptoms?
The first of all whiplash symptoms that comes to mind is a sore neck that starts either right away or within days of the injury.
But did you know that whiplash symptoms can even include these things?
- Arm numbness
- Arm pain
- Arm tingling
- Blurred vision
- Concentration problems
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Memory problems
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Neck pain when moving the neck
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Shoulder pain
- Upper back pain
- Waking up from sleep due to pain
In some cases, the whiplash goes away pretty fast. In other cases, whiplash symptoms persist for months and even years after an injury accident.
What Are Neck Injuries Besides Whiplash?
Here are some of the other neck injuries besides whiplash:
- Airbag injuries
- Cuts and bruising
- Damaged muscles
- Dislocated vertabrae
- Fractured vertabrae
- Facet joint injury
- Slipped disc
When an airbag goes off, it's called an airbag deployment. Anytime an airbag goes off, more than whiplash can occur. Ironically the very airbag that is supposed to protect can also cause bruising, cuts, lacerations and scrapes. In more severe cases, airbag deployment can cause:
When Does An Airbag Deploy?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Institute (NHTSI) says that frontal air bags are generally designed to deploy in “moderate to severe” frontal or near-frontal crashes.
They say that moderate to severe frontal or near frontal crashes are defined as crashes that are equivalent to hitting a solid, fixed barrier at 8 to 14 mph or higher. This is the equivalent to striking a parked car of similar size at about 16 to 28 mph or higher.
Cuts And Bruising To The Neck
During any type of traffic accident, glass can break. If this happens, glass can injure the people in the accident. At times, glass gets imbedded in the neck of a driver or passenger.
If an auto accident is significant, objects inside of a car may even become airborne. When this happens, they can actually become projectiles.
Examples are things many of us carry in the car: cell phones, coffee mugs, GPS devices, purses, sunglasses, thermoses, wallets and more. These projectiles can hit the driver or the passengers. This can cause bruising, cuts, lacerations, and scrapes. If the projectile hits the neck hard enough, it can even damage the neck.
Some people see the accident coming right before it happens. Naturally, this can cause them to tense up to try and brace for the crash that has now become inevitable.
What ends up happening is tensing up makes the muscles stiffen during the crash. Stiff muscles don't give and flex. A stiff muscle is more prone to get damaged in an accident.
So, besides whiplash, some people suffer neck and shoulder muscle damage in an accident. This can cause ongoing pain and weakness, making it harder to recover from your injuries.
When an accident impact pulls the vertebrae apart, it can cause a dislocation or fracture.
A cervical dislocation means that a ligament injury in the neck has occurred, and two (or more) of the adjoining spine bones have become abnormally separated from each other, causing instability.
Did you know that you can have both a fractured cervical spine, and a dislocated one, at the very same time?
Depending on the specifics of the injury, surgery may even be required.
In severe cases, the spinal cord may become damaged, leading to paralysis.
The forceful and fast, back-and-forth movement of the neck, that can cause whiplash can actually pull the vertebrae apart. This can result in a cervical dislocation or a cervical fracture.
The bones in the neck are called the cervical spine. A neck fracture means that a bone is broken in the cervical spine.
A cervical fracture is an extremely serious injury causing tremendous and immediate pain. If you feel intense pain after an automobile accident, remain still until the paramedics arrive. If you move, and your neck really is fractured, you could end up getting paralyzed. This is because moving a fractured neck can damage your spinal cord.
Facet Joint Injury
Facet joints are found in the spine. Think of them like a hinge that exists between each vertebra. These joints lubricate themselves.
People with facet joint injuries say that they have to turn their whole body to look to the left or right.
When it comes to facet joint injuries and x-rays, they may not show up in x-rays. Facet joint injuries may result in a lot of pain and dysfunction and may make an accident victim more likely to get early arthritis.
Slipped Disc (Herniated Disc)
A herniated disc is commonly called a slipped disc. There are 7 discs in the neck. Each of them are located in between vertebrae. Each disc cushions the vertebrae, and help to bear and distribute the weight from the head.
Each disc has two basic parts:
- A strong outer layer made of collagen
- A cushioning gel-like interior, with loose fibers. This gives the neck flexibility
When you herniate a disk, its material compresses or inflames the nerve root, causing pain.
In the cervical spine, the C6-7 is the most common herniation disc that causes symptoms, mostly radiculopathy.
- C6 Radiculopathy - May cause pain or weakness from the neck along the arm, including the biceps, wrists, thumb, and index finger.
- C7 Radiculopathy - The most common. May cause pain or weakness from the neck to the hand, including triceps and the middle finger.
What Are Radiculopathy Treatments?
There are non-surgical and surgical radiculopathy treatments:
Non-surgical radiculopathy treatments:
- Rest or Lifestyle Changes
- Physical Therapy
- Medications or Injections
Surgical radiculopathy treatments:
- Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
- Artificial Disc Replacement
How Do Neck Injuries Impact Daily Life?
Neck injuries can impact every single aspect of a person's life.
Here are just some of the ways that an injured and painful neck interferes with the activities of daily living:
- Lack of sleep causes irritability
- Pain makes it difficult to sleep and get comfortable
- Pain wakes you up from sleep
- Pain while caring for children
- Pain while driving a car - can't turn their neck without pain
- Pain while cooking
- Pain while cleaning
- Pain while socializing - may leave early or avoid socializing altogether
- Mental health suffers - depression sets in because life has changed
- Pain interferes with working
- Pain interferes with leisure activities
How Long Do I Have to File Neck Injury Claim?
Generally, there is a statute of limitations of two years to file a California lawsuit and sue for an accident that results in neck pain. But some statutes of limitations are as short as 6 months. Speak to an attorney to be sure you don't miss yours.
That clock starts on the date of the accident. With extremely limited exceptions, the clock runs out exactly 730 days later, because a year is 365 days.
But, it's still the best idea to contact a San Jose neck injury attorney now. To best protect yourself, consult with an accident attorney now.
This way, you can reap all the benefits and protections of having a good attorney fight for your neck injury case from day one.
Do I Need An Attorney For My Neck Injury Accident Case?
While you can represent yourself in your neck injury case, unless your case is minor, I recommend that you hire an attorney to fight your neck injury case.
If your loved one passed away due to a neck injury, please call me about your wrongful death case.
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None of the information on this website of Attorney Renée Yvonne Gardner is offered as medical advice.
If you have been injured in any type of accident, please seek immediate medical attention and follow the advice of your doctor.