Neck and back pain after a car accident is extremely common. In some situations, it can plague car accident victims for years after the accident, and potentially for the rest of their lives. Neck and back injuries sometimes require medical specialists and may result in numerous surgeries.
Although these injuries may not seem like a big deal at the time, they can haunt a car accident victim for years to come...
The neck is also termed the clerical portion of the spine. It contains seven bony vertebrae. These are numbered C-1 to C-7. A round, soft cushion is found between each vertebra.
These discs prevent the vertebrae from rubbing together, increase movement, and act as a shock absorbed for your neck and spine. The remaining portion of the spine also has these discs between each vertebra.
The spine also carries nerve signals throughout the body. That means that if you damage your back, you can potentially be damaging nerves as well. This can lead to a host of unexpected problems that may not be anywhere near your back.
In fact, in severe injuries, you may lose your ability to move or have feeling or sensation below the injured area.
In a car accident, the back and neck are sometimes stretched to their maximum and then they are quickly contracted. This can cause strain and other damage. Ruptured or bulging discs, the soft cushion between the vertebrae, are extremely common.
These can not only be painful, they can also decrease your movement and could result in nerve damage.
Types of Neck and Back Injuries After an Auto Accident
Although every injury is slightly different, there are a few neck and back injuries that are relatively common after a car accident:
- Whiplash (the rapid stretching and then contracting of the neck)
- Herniated disc, bulging disc, protruding disc, and ruptured discs
- Neck fracture
- Chronic neck and back pain
- Cervical dislocation
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
- Neck sprain
- Arthritis of the neck or back
- Pinched nerves or nerve compression
- Tingling or radiating pain
- Cervical Spondylosis
- Bone spurs
- Spinal Stenosis
- Thoracic spine injuries
- Lumbar spine injuries
Most back and neck injuries will require x-rays, CT scans, MRI's, myelograms, or bone scans to determine how serious they actually are. Treatment will vary significantly by the type of neck or back injury. It can range from simple physical therapy to back or neck surgery.
Sometimes the available treatments, like injections, pain medication, or visiting a chiropractor, are only a temporary solution, and you must keep treating your back or neck regularly.
Distinguish Between Back and Neck Problems
It is sometimes difficult to determine whether your pain is actually coming from your neck or your back. Knowing which area to treat can be the difference between constant pain and pain relief.
If you have any of the following symptoms, then you may have a neck injury instead of a back injury:
- Pain in your shoulders, arms, or hands
- Decreased range of motion in your neck or shoulders
- Numbness or weakness in your hands
- Slower reflexes in your arms and hands
- Muscle spasms in your neck
It is important to tell your doctor about all of your systems, even if you do not think they are related to your neck or back injury. Because of the nerve center within your spinal cord, you would be surprised which pains or problems are associated with your back or neck injuries.