What To Do When Experiencing Neck Pain After a Car Accident
There are many different types of injuries that can stem from an Illinois car accident, although one of the most common ones is neck pain. There are different types of neck pain that someone can suffer, which we’ll detail below. Some of those neck injuries may only result in a victim suffering temporary setbacks, but others may leave a more lasting impact on a person’s future health and lifestyle.
The steps someone who has suffered a suspected or known neck injury takes immediately following a car crash can significantly impact the extent of the pain they experience. It can also affect whether they experience any long-term functional impairments. Continue reading for step-by-step instructions on what to do when experiencing neck pain after an accident.
Types of Neck Pain Motorists Experience After Car Accidents
There are a few different types of neck pain that are more common than others after an auto accident, including:
This is classified as a soft tissue injury and most commonly affects individuals involved in rear-end crashes. The onset of this injury generally occurs when a vehicle occupant’s head shifts forward and backward after their automobile is struck from behind with significant force, causing a driver’s body (head included) to shift forward and backward abruptly.
Individuals who suffer whiplash generally experience a fairly sudden onset of tenderness in their neck and upper torso. That discomfort is often accompanied by decreased sensation in a patient’s arms; however, some patients report heightened, abnormal feelings like tingling instead. Another whiplash symptom is a decreased range of motion and headaches.
We humans have rubber-like cushions that encompass a more malleable, jellylike mass known as discs interspersed among our vertebrae. These vertebrae span from the cervical down through the thoracic and into the lumbar spine, allowing us to stand tall and move about with ease.
A traumatic event, which many Marion car accidents are, can cause one of those discs to slip out of place (a process also referred to as rupturing), causing a patient to experience significant swelling and throbbing pain that can radiate into their shoulder, arm, and sometimes even the hands. Patients who’ve suffered herniated cervical discs also commonly report increased pain when turning their head toward the herniation instead of the non-aggravated side.
A cervical fracture may accompany some of the injuries listed above, like a whiplash, if the impact of the car crash is particularly forceful and causes a vehicle occupant’s head to collide with the windshield, dashboard, steering wheel, or an inflated air bag. Also, certain types of accidents, such as a rollover, in which a car passenger’s head makes contact with the automobile’s headliner, could cause one of the many bones that comprise your neck to break.
Contrary to popular belief, a broken neck that isn’t accompanied by a severed spinal cord doesn’t always make a person unable to move their neck. Their neck’s mobility is really contingent upon which bone is broken.
A surgical procedure isn’t always necessary to repair a fractured neck. It really depends on whether any discs are too damaged that they need to be removed or if there’s an impingement on the spinal cord. In those cases, an operation and potential insertion of pins for stabilization may be necessary. In other cases, a doctor may provide a patient who’s suffered a broken neck a cervical collar to wear until their fracture heals itself.
The degree and location of neck pain that a patient who suffers a cervical fracture may experience generally varies, depending on the following:
- The location of the injury within the neck or cervical spine
- Whether the fracture is adding pressure to the spinal cord
- Whether herniated or damaged discs are involved
Spinal Cord Injuries
The first seven vertebrae comprise your cervical spine. They sit right in front of your spinal cord, protecting it from potential danger. A forceful collision, especially a rear-end one that occurs at a fast rate of speed or on a slope, often has catastrophic consequences, one of which is a higher incidence rate of spinal cord injuries among crash victims.
While many people associate a spinal cord injury with likely paralysis and thus a lack of sensation, such as pain, that’s not always the case.
Whether a patient has a complete or incomplete spinal cord injury matters. Also of importance is at which level the injury occurred. It also matters how quickly and the type of treatment spinal cord injury patients receive. Plus, a patient who suffers a spinal cord injury generally can sense pain at or above their level of injury, if not below it. In addition, while someone who has suffered likely paralysis may not feel actual pain in some areas, their bodies may show other signs of inflammation or distress.
While most individuals who’ve suffered a complete spinal cord injury will readily realize something is wrong at their crash site as they’ll face mobility issues, it is possible for someone with an incomplete spinal cord injury to not immediately realize they’re suffering from one. Some of the telltale signs of an incomplete cervical spinal cord injury may include:
- A decreased ability to independently breathe
- Progressive weakness, numbness, or an otherwise loss of sensation below the injury site
- Abnormal pain in the neck, back or extremities (legs and arms)
Steps To Take if You’re Suffering From Neck Pain After a Car Crash
Now that we’ve gone into significant depth about the four most common and concerning reasons you may suffer from neck pain following an auto accident, let’s go over what steps you should take if you believe you have suffered one of these injuries.
Seek Immediate Medical Care
First, as suggested in the section on spinal cord injuries but applicable in any of the injury scenarios described above, getting help right away can make all the difference in your recovery and, thus, your prognosis. Seeking immediate medical care can minimize the chances of compounding your injury.
Even if you think you are simply dealing with a neck sprain or strain that will subside in a few hours or days, don’t play doctor yourself. Still, get checked out. There could be underlying damage, such as internal bleeding, leading to worse problems beyond your neck.
It also can’t be stated enough that following through with your doctor’s treatment plan is tremendously important. The rest and repair you get in or perform in the immediate aftermath of your Illinois car accident can also dictate how well you ultimately recover from your injuries and whether you’re able to live a pain-free life moving forward.
Consult With a Marion Car Accident Attorney
Whether you listen to the radio or turn on the television, you probably hear your fair share of commercials from car accident attorneys saying you need to reach out to them after a car crash. Few explain the reasons why.
If an insurer gets wind that you’re unwell after an accident, they’re going to amp up their already-aggressive tactics aimed at devaluing any potential Illinois car accident claim you file. If you ultimately file a lawsuit, they may contend that you did something to cause the crash that injured you. If that’s not a plausible option, the insurance adjuster may allege that some or all of your injuries were pre-existing.
Insurers regularly do this to keep money in their pockets, not caring about how you’ll pay for the treatment of your injuries or the lost wages you’ll undoubtedly incur as you recover. You can count on your car accident lawyer at Prince Law Firm to be familiar with these tactics and how to respond to and get past them to recover fair compensation to cover your current and future crash-related expenses.
Scheduling an Initial Consultation With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Our legal team here at our Marion law firm work on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t collect anything for our representation of you unless we recover compensation on your behalf. Therefore, you have nothing to lose by scheduling a free, no-obligation consultation with an Illinois lawyer like ours that can represent your interests if you decide to file a lawsuit. Call or email our Illinois law office to schedule a free case evaluation with our attorney before the statute of limitations runs out.
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