Car Accidents and Neck Injuries

neck-injuryNeck injuries are often more serious than they seem at first; in fact, it’s fairly common for neck injuries to start causing pain a few days or even a few weeks after a traumatic car accident. We’ve all heard of whiplash, but what do you really know about it? You might be surprised to learn that there are several neck injuries that often show up after car crashes—it’s not just whiplash—and that they can be extremely serious and incredibly painful.

Whiplash: Common Symptoms

Many car accidents—even minor ones—can result in whiplash. While your spine is usually pretty tough, it’s easy to injure it when you’re rear-ended, have a head-on collision or are in any other type of an accident. Common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears that doesn’t go away)
  • Headaches
  • Back, arm, jaw and shoulder pain

There are several other long-term effects of whiplash, as well, so if you suspect that you have this type of injury, please go see a medical professional right away.

Other Types of Neck Injuries from Car Accidents

Remember that your head is like a heavy weight at the top of your thin, flexible spine. Your head, with its approximately 3.5-pound brain, can weigh anywhere between 7 and 11 pounds (those weights are at both ends of the average spectrum). Combine that weight with the force of a sudden stop, which is common in most car accidents, and you have a perfect recipe for all kinds of neck injuries, including:

  • Neck strain. The muscles in your neck can become stretched or torn during an accident. This injury is the same as “pulling” a muscle when you’re working out or become injured.
  • Neck sprain. The ligaments in your neck can stretch too far or tear; when that happens, you have a neck sprain.
  • Herniated discs. Pressure on the discs of your spine can cause them to rupture. They’re filled with a substance that provides insulation; when they rupture, that substance comes out and causes pain, numbness and weakness.
  • Pinched nerves. Bone spurs, fragments of ruptured discs and other internal debris can touch the nerves that run along your spine, causing extreme pain, numbness and tingling.

If you’ve sustained a neck injury as a result of a car accident, don’t wait to get treatment. Studies have shown that the sooner you receive treatment and begin rehabilitative exercises, the more likely you are to make a full recovery. Your personal injury lawyer will probably encourage you to keep copies of all your medical records, as well, so that you can use them if you need to file a lawsuit so you can be compensated for your medical costs.