The neck or the cervical region is a very important part of the body, the significance of which cannot be overemphasized. Connecting the head to the rest of the body with the help of the cervical spine, the cervical region is where many integral structures of the body are located. The cervical region contains all the major blood vessels running straight from the heart to endocrine organs such as thyroid and parathyroid glands that are essential for normal growth and development.
Due to its delicate and narrow structure, the neck is susceptible of succumbing to the least bit of trauma. There are special pressure-sensors located on the carotid artery called baroreceptors that can be activated by a slight amount of pressure, sending signals to the heart depressing its activity to an extent that it may even cause death.
Neck injury is the most frequently reported injury in insurance claims in the U.S. Over a hundred thousand neck injuries are sustained every year due to traffic accidents, particularly involving semi-trailer trucks along with other heavy vehicles, which due to their massive size and weight lead to horrendous crashes.
TYPES OF CERVICAL INJURIES
Depending upon the type of tissue involved, cervical injury can be of following types:
1. Cervical spinal cord injury: this results as a trauma to the cervical portion of the spinal cord. These are the most severe injuries, as they may result in paralysis of all four limbs. The vital brain centers for breathing and circulation are located under the first two vertebrae, damage to which leads to instantaneous death. This is seen in cases of hanging.
2. Cervical disc injury: it is due to damage of the intervertebral discs. It may either result on herniation of the inner soft part of the disk or tearing of the outer fibrous part of the disk.
3. Vertebral fractures: the severity of the fracture is proportional to the force of the trauma. The most frequent injuries can occur either at the level of the 2nd vertebra or the 6th or 7th vertebra.
4. Spinal stenosis: it is a condition in which the canal of vertebras containing the spinal cord is narrowed as a result of trauma or injury, which leads to compression of spinal nerves leading to pain.
5. Whiplash injuries: they are a very important injuries sustained in auto accidents. The mechanism is hyper flexion followed by hyperextension of the neck, rendering damage to the muscles and ligaments of the neck.
6. Stingers and burners: these are so called due to the sensation they produce and occur due to injury to the nerve roots of the brachial plexus.
7. Laceration of blood vessels: the carotid arteries and jugular veins are located in the neck that can get lacerated and lead to death as a result of severe blood loss.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS – NECK INJURY
Following are the warning signs that you have sustained a cervical neck injury:
- Pain, constant and severe making the patient unable to move his/her neck.
- Inability to move (paralysis) any or all of the four limbs.
- Numbness or tingling in the upper limbs.
- Stiffness in neck.
- Headache, at the base of the neck.
- Blurred vision.
- Loss of bowel or urination control.
- Memory loss.
- Difficulty in concentrating.
Medication: in case of minor pain, it can be managed at home with over-the-counter painkillers, ice pack or rest. If the pain is aggravated and a physician must be consulted, who may prescribe stronger narcotic painkillers, or inject a local anesthetic to numb the region and give muscle relaxants or may give a corticosteroid injection that will reduce the inflammation.
Surgery: if the degree of injury is severe and has resulted in a ligament or muscle tear, cord damage or vertebral fracture, then surgical intervention is required.
Immobilization of neck: this is achieved by surrounding the neck with a soft foam collar that prevents movement and stabilizes the neck.
Neck injuries are an extremely serious matter and any delay in medical treatment can lead to numerous kinds of disabilities that impair one’s ability to live a healthy life. Thus if you are exhibiting any of the above stated symptoms after a semi-truck accident, refer to a health professional immediately.
If you have suffered a neck injury as the result of a truck or tractor trailer accident caused by another, contact a Missouri truck accident lawyer for information on reimbursement for your losses. To speak a personal injury attorney, call 1.314.409.7060 or toll-free at 855-402-7274.