Neck Injuries

Your neck is one of the most critical regions of your spine because it houses the main connection between your spinal cord and your brain. However, due to the level of motion and free movement your neck allows you to have, it is also easily injured. This can happen in numerous ways such as being involved in a slip and fall accident, merely overextending your neck, or being involved in the most common neck-injuring event, a car accident. Moreover, neck injuries are becoming more common, because common events that cause them are on the rise. For example, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 6,296,000 car crashes in 2015 which represents an increase of over 200,000 car crashes from the previous year, 2014, at which time there were 6,064,000 car crashes reported to the NHTSA.

In Florida specifically, there 395,785 car crashes reported in 2016, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and there were 402,385 car accidents reported in 2017. Naturally, as the number of car crashes increase, so do the number of people injured. In 2016, there were 254,155 cases of individuals involved in a car accident sustaining one or more injuries, but by the end of 2017, there 254,310 instances of car accident victims sustaining one or more injuries as a result of an accident. As these figures demonstrate, the chances of you being involved in a car accident are high in the state of Florida, and neck injuries are one of the most common types of injuries accident victims sustain following a car crash. As such, it’s important for you to know the different types of neck injuries you can sustain, the symptoms associated with these injuries, and some of the most common treatment options your physician might recommend to treat your neck injuries.

Neck Pain

Type of Neck Injuries

Although car accidents are the most common cause of a neck injury, slip and fall accidents can be just as dangerous and just as common. For example, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one out of every five falls among older adults, those age 65 or older, results in a serious injury, and each year over three million older Americans are treated in emergency rooms across the country for fall-related injuries.

So, both car accidents and slip and fall accidents have a high degree of commonality, but the reason these facts are important is, the event that ultimately causes your injury has a large impact on the type of neck injury you may have sustained as a result of the accident. As such, it’s important for you to consider how your accident occurred as you evaluate the type of neck injury you may have sustained. The three broad categories of neck injuries that accident victims commonly sustain following an accident are listed in order of severity below:

  • Neck strain
  • Herniated or bulging discs in the neck
  • Spinal cord injuries in the neck

Cervical Sprains or Whiplash

Whiplash is the most common term used to describe a sprain in the cervical spine. Your neck has hundreds of muscle fibers that run throughout your cervical spine and into your shoulders and upper back. When you are involved in any type of an event such as a slip and fall or car accident that causes your head and neck to whip forward and backward or side to side in a sudden and unnatural fashion, it can cause the muscle fibers in your neck to tear. Car accidents are one of the major causes of whiplash in the U.S., and according to a study conducted by the NHTSA, there were an estimated 806,000 people who sustained a whiplash injury in 2004. Moreover, the NHTSA estimated that the lifetime economic and quality of life costs associated with whiplash injuries from that year were over nine billion dollars annually. Common symptoms associated with whiplash include:

  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Back Pain

While whiplash is both common and painful, it is also a very treatable injury. The treatment options your doctor recommends for your injury will depend on the severity of your condition, but some of the most common treatments for whiplash include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Medication
  • Cervical traction

Herniated or Bulging Discs in the Neck

There are seven vertebrae that comprise your cervical spine, and in between each set of vertebrae is an intervertebral disc. These discs act as a cushion that separates each set of vertebrae, and they play a pivotal role in the facilitation of free movement of your neck. When you are involved in an event that causes your cervical spine to sustain sudden trauma, the intervertebral discs in your neck can become swollen or irritated, which is referred to as a bulging disc, or they can actually rupture in a weak area of the disc, which is referred to as a disc herniation or a protruding disc. Bulging or herniated discs can be both painful and permanent in some cases. Common symptoms associated with a bulging disc include:

  • Pain in your neck, shoulders, and back
  • Pain that is caused by movement
  • Numbness or tingling in your shoulders, arms, or fingers
  • Reduced range of motion your neck

Common symptoms associated with a herniated disc in your neck include:

  • Pain in your neck, shoulders, and back
  • Pain that radiates down your arm and into your hand
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

Treatments for Herniated or Bulging Discs

Treatments for herniated or bulging discs in your neck will vary significantly based on the severity of your condition because the treatment options that can be used to treat a herniated or bulging disc can range from physical therapy to surgery. Generally, some of the most common treatment options for a herniated or bulging disc include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Medications
  • Injections in your spine
  • Surgery
  • Chiropractic care

Spinal Cord Injuries in the Neck

The most severe type of neck injury you could sustain is one that bruises partially severs, or fully severs your spinal cord. This could be caused by neck injuries such as a severe disc herniation or vertebral fracture, and the symptoms associated with a spinal cord injury can be temporary or permanent. This type of neck injury is categorized as catastrophic due to the effect a spinal cord injury could have on your life. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, there are 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries every year in the U.S., and car accidents are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries nationwide. Common symptoms associated with spinal cord injuries include:

  • Complete or partial paralysis
  • Extreme pain or pressure in the neck, head or back
  • Tingling or loss of sensation in your hand, fingers, feet or toes
  • Difficulty with balance and walking
  • Impaired breathing after injury
  • Unusual lumps on the head or spine

Due to the complexity of spinal cord injuries, the treatment options your doctor recommends will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but if you start to experience any of the above-referenced symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Connect with a Personal Injury Attorney

A neck injury can affect every aspect of your life, and in some cases, the symptoms associated with a neck injury can be permanent. As such, it’s important for you to consult with a personal injury attorney following an accident in order to determine what your legal rights are and whether or not you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. 1800-Injured is a medical and lawyer referral service that connects accident victims with local personal injury attorneys in their area. Don’t let a neck injury ruin your future. Call 1800-Injured today to be connected with a personal injury attorney near you.