Neck injuries in auto accidents often occur when a motorist is struck by another car from behind. Since these types of injuries can occur even in minor auto accidents, neck injuries are the most likely injuries to result from a car accident.
Generally neck injuries result from whiplash effect, which is when your neck moves back and forth rapidly and forcefully after a rear-end impact.
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This kind of movement is so forceful that it can cause injury to the bones, ligaments, soft tissues and nerves in your neck.
Types of Neck Injuries
Car accident victims can suffer a variety of neck injuries depending on the force that caused the whiplash and other factors. The injuries can vary from mild to extremely severe. The common types of neck injuries include:
- Soft tissue injury: Are injuries that affect the neck muscles, tendons and ligaments. They include sprains, tears and strains to soft tissue in the neck. They do not affect the bones in the neck.
- Vocal cord injury: They happen when there is impact on the larynx. If the vocal cord is paralyzed, it can affect a person’s ability to talk and to breathe.
- Cuts or lacerations: These cuts can damage tendons or ligaments and are often vulnerable to infections.
- Cervical ligament injury: the cervical ligament is the located at the base of the neck. It is normally caused by violent whiplash movements.
- Brain injuries: Brain injuries can be caused indirectly when the arteries in the neck are injured. The damage happens because blood can no longer reach the brain.
- Slipped disc injuries: Slipped discs in the neck can cause a condition called paresthesia, which is a tingling sensation on the skin.
Symptoms of a Neck Injury
Neck injuries do not always present symptoms immediately after an accident happens. The reason for this is the fact that the body produces adrenaline after an accident, which masks any neck pain and other symptoms. Generally, neck pain injury symptoms can appear after 24 hour or weeks or months after an accident. Common neck injury symptoms include:
- Neck stiffness and pain
- Pain and tenderness in the shoulder, upper arms or back
- Numbness or tingling in the arms
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
Treatment For Neck Injuries
If the doctor believes your neck injury is minor, they will probably ask you to ice your neck every few hours and take pain killers. You may also have to wear a neck brace for a certain number of days to help your neck heal faster. However, if the injury is serious, there may be invasive and interventional treatment of pain.
A neck fusion surgery could be used in situations where discs and bones in the neck are damaged in an accident. The surgery is done to relieve the pressure on the spine that results when the bones and discs in the neck are damaged. Surgical plates and screws are used to provide extra support in the neck and enhance recovery.
Other Injuries Caused by Car Accidents
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