When we think of car accidents, we often think of a singular event. Injuries are suffered, and people heal. However, the truth is not always so simple. Every year, thousands of people suffer serious, long-term injuries from car crashes – injuries that can result in a lifetime of pain and debilitation. This is one reason neck pain after a car accident is so alarming.
So, what options do you have? How do you know if your neck pain is a symptom of something serious? How long will the pain last?
While only a medical expert can determine the seriousness of your neck injury, here are a few things you may consider and a few reasons you may want to seek medical attention sooner rather than later.
Why Does My Neck Hurt?
Your neck is among the most vulnerable parts of your body, and cars offer very little in the way of neck protection.
When you are involved in a car accident, your body is put under immense amounts of force. As you are thrown around, your body has little time to react and brace for unexpected jolts and impacts. While a seatbelt can help hold your body in place, your neck is unrestrained and can jerk back and forth or side to side. You may also suffer neck injuries from flying debris and objects in your car.
These rapid movements and forceful impacts can injure the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your neck. Even worse, they can cause serious injury to the nerves, joints, and vertebrae in the cervical spine.
All of these injuries can result in stiffness and pain as well as trouble moving or turning the neck. In severe instances, these injuries can result in long-term issues and even paralysis. As such, neck pain after a car accident should never be ignored.
Signs of a Neck Injury After a Car Accident?
Symptoms of a neck injury may vary from injury to injury making neck injuries difficult to diagnose. It is also important to remember that not all of these injuries will result in neck pain, at least not immediately.
Delayed neck pain is very common after a crash as symptoms of an injury may not manifest for hours, days, or even weeks after an accident. To make matters worse, an undiagnosed neck injury may worsen over time without treatment, leading to more severe complications.
If you are involved in a car accident, it is typically in your best interest to get checked out by a medical professional. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.
- Neck pain
- Stiffness in the neck
- Decreased range of motion
- Pain that radiates from the neck to the shoulder, arms, or hands
- Tingling or numbness in the arms, hands, or fingers
- Weakness in the arms, hands, or fingers
It is important that you do not ignore these symptoms. As mentioned, the neck is very vulnerable. When left untreated, even a minor neck injury could become the source of chronic pain and complications.
Common Neck Injuries Suffered in Car Accidents
Car accidents can cause a multitude of injuries to the neck. Additionally, car accident victims can often suffer more than one type of neck injury at a time. Among the most common are:
- Soft tissue damage. Soft tissue injuries occur when muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck are torn, sprained, or strained. These injuries will often cause pain, stiffness, and tenderness in the neck as well as the shoulders. You may also notice reduced movement as well as muscle spasms in the neck.
- Slipped/herniated disc. Injuries to the spine are another common injury in car accidents. This includes slipped and herniated discs. The impact of a collision may cause intervertebral discs in the cervical spine to slip out of place and compress the nerves in the spinal cord (this is often called a pinched nerve). This can cause consistent pain as well as weakness, numbness, and tingling that extends to the shoulders, arms, hands, or fingers.
- Whiplash. We’ve all heard the term whiplash, but we rarely understand what it entails. Whiplash occurs when the neck and head are suddenly jerked forward and/or backward. This can strain, tear, or damage the ligaments, muscles, nerves, and connective tissues in the neck. Whiplash is common in rear-end collisions and can cause pain, headaches, and even memory loss in some cases.
- Facet joint injury. Facet joints help to stabilize the head and neck. The joints can become inflamed or irritated after a crash, affecting the movement and range of motion of the joints.
- Cuts, bruises, and lacerations. Neck injuries are not limited to the muscles and spine. Flying debris and glass can leave car accident victims with cuts and bruises on their necks. If deep enough, they may damage tissue and tendons in the neck.
- Neck fracture. A neck fracture is always severe. If you have suffered a neck fracture in a car crash, you will know it immediately. We have a tendency to believe neck fractures result in loss of feeling. While paralysis is a possible outcome, neck fractures also result in tremendous pain. When neck fractures are suspected, the victims should not be moved without medical assistance. Improper movement increases the risk of paralysis and damage to the spinal cord.
I Have Neck Pain After a Crash, What Should I Do Now?
If you have neck pain after a car accident, you should seek out medical attention first and foremost. Getting a timely diagnosis and treatment plan can save you from future pain and complications. After that, contact an experienced injury attorney.
Thomas J. Henry Law has represented neck injury victims in courtrooms across Texas and throughout the United States. Our law firm works closely with medical professionals and expert witnesses to document and demonstrate your injuries. We will also work with your medical providers so you get the treatment you need. We will fight to secure maximum compensation for you and your family, ensuring your financial future is secure.
Do not wait. The sooner you call a qualified attorney, the more likely you are to secure a favorable outcome for your neck injury claim. Call now to speak with a San Antonio car accident attorney about your case. We are available 24/7, nights and weekends.