Neck injuries are some of the most common injuries following car accidents, motorcycle accidents, semi-truck crashes, and slip and fall accidents. Those suffering from neck injuries often require specialists for neck pain and ongoing medical treatment. Traumatic neck injuries claim countless lives every year and chronic neck pain plagues numerous others.
The cost of finding relief for neck pain often takes a physical, emotional, and financial toll on injury victims. If you are suffering from neck pain as the result of an accident that was caused by another, you are entitled to reimbursement for your harms and losses.
Neck Injury Basics
The neck separates the head from the torso. The neck is commonly referred to as the cervical portion of the spine. The cervical (neck) portion of the human spine begins at the base of the skull and ends where the lumbar (back) portion of the human spine begins. The cervical portion of the human spine is composed of 7 bony vertebrae, referred to in numbered fashion as C-1 through C-7. Between each of the hard vertebrae is a soft cushion known as the disc. These discs act as a shock absorber for the vertebrae. The discs absorb the impact and movement of our daily activities.
The neck provides protection to the nerves which carry motor and sensory information from the brain throughout the body. The cervical vertebrae surround the canal and spinal cord. The cervical spine is extremely delicate and provides a protective housing for the spinal cord, yet allows for flexible movement.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
Neck pain often follows an injury to the neck. A traumatic event, such as an automobile accident, is an extremely common cause of neck injuries. In an automobile crash, the back is often firmly pressed against the seat, while the neck hovers slightly off the back of the seat and head rest. This leaves the neck extremely vulnerable to the sudden directional changes which follow an impact. When the head is whipped, the neck is stressed to catch up. Rear end auto collisions are particularly hard on the neck.
Other traumatic injuries, such as sport injuries or falling, account for additional thousands of neck injuries each year. In addition, as we begin to age, our body can break down and place us at an increased risk of injury. We all must remember that while a 16 year may bounce right back from a car accident, it may take a 70 year old months or years to recover from the same injury. No matter who we hit, we are responsible for all the harm caused.
Types of Neck Injuries
Neck injuries come in many types and degrees of severity. Below is a list of several types of neck injuries with a brief description of the condition:
- Whiplash: Following a motor vehicle crash, the sudden whipping of the head results in the condition of whiplash. The whipping of the head may cause damage to ligaments, joints, discs, vertebrae and muscles. Reports note that some people are able to quickly overcome this condition, while 15%-20% of whiplash victims develop chronic pain. Whiplash may also cause fatigue, blurred vision, ear ringing, memory problems, and sleep interruption.
- Herniated Disc / Bulging Disc / Protruding Disc / Ruptured Disc: In a traumatic accident, the soft jelly like cushion disc which acts as a shock absorber for the vertebrae may be forced out place. The degree to which the disc is forced out of its normal location will determine the type of injury.
- Neck Fracture: Traumatic events may cause the vertebrae in the neck to fracture. Neck fractures are an extremely serious injury and carry the possibility of paralysis, loss of sensation and death.
- Cervical Dislocation: This is also known as breaking the neck and occurs when the spinal column becomes dislocated from the skull. An injury of this nature often results in paralysis or death.
- Spinal Cord Injury (SCI): A traumatic injury which affects the spinal cord, as opposed to a disease which affects the spinal cord, is referred to as a spinal cord injury. Any spinal cord injury can be life threatening and should be treated with qualified medical professionals immediately.
- Neck Sprain: This refers to a ligament strain or muscle strain in the neck affecting the soft tissues.
- Pinched Nerve / Nerve Compression: When a disc herniates as described above, it is forced out of its normal position. This intrusion into another area of the spine may pinch or compress other nerves nearby.
- Stingers / Tingling and Radiating Pain: This is when a shooting or sharp pain shoots down one arm. It is generally the result of interference with the nerves in the neck or those traveling from the spinal cord to the neck.
- Arthritis of the Neck / Cervical Spondylosis: The discs between our vertebrae have a high water content when we are young. As we age, our discs dry out. As these cushions begin to wear out, one may feel additional pain in normal activities. Traumatic injury to the discs or vertebrae may also accelerate deterioration. Insurance companies will often attempt to blame any neck injury on arthritis neck pain to avoid having to pay injury victims.
- Bone Spurs: If the cushions between our vertebrae wear out completely, bone may rub on bone. If this goes untreated, our bodies may compensate and grow additional bone called spurs.
- Spinal Stenosis: This is the narrowing of the foramina of the vertebrae, which can lead to compression of the spinal cord or nerves.
Neck Injury Treatment and Neck Pain Relief
It is imperative to consult with a neck injury specialist who is able to properly diagnose your specific neck injury. Often an MRI is required in order to obtain an accurate picture of the injury. Compared to an x-ray, An MRI produces an image with more soft tissue detail, capable of displaying subtle differences in the soft tissues. Once your medical professional knows the exact injury, they are able to recommend the proper course of treatment. An orthopedic neck doctor is a common specialist when dealing with neck injuries. Traumatic or chronic neck pain treatment may take one of the following forms:
- Ice and Neck Exercises/Stretching
- Pain Medication
- Physical Therapy
- Pain Management – Steroid Injections or Facet Joint Injections
- Neck Surgery – This may include a cervical myelogram, cervical discogram, cervical fusion, artificial disc replacement and/or implants.
Neck Injury Settlements and Lawsuits
There is no bright line rule for personal injury victims trying to determine the value of a neck injury case. Neck injury victims are entitled to be reimbursed for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of consortium, and other related damages. In addition, every case is unique, and a herniated disc settlement is valued in a different manner than a neck strain or other injury. It is best to discuss your case with a neck injury attorney to ensure you are receiving the proper amount of compensation.
If you have suffered a neck injury as the result of a traumatic event such as a car accident, contact St. Louis neck surgery lawyer Chris Dixon for a FREE neck injury case evaluation by calling (314) 409-7060, or toll-free at (*855) 40-2727. Chris is recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association and a Life-Time Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.