Forces in a car crash are incredibly strong. Even a car going only 30 miles an hour exerts approximately 2.4 tons of force on the driver when it stops at a distance of 1 foot.
Now think about that driver’s neck. It has a 10-11 pound ball sitting on top of it that will be flung about with 2.4 tons of force.
It’s no wonder that many people suffer from neck injuries and pain after a car accident. That’s a lot for the body to handle.
However, not all neck injuries are the same. Some are more serious than others. Let’s take a look at several common causes of neck pain after a car accident.
1. Neck Strain
At the very least, most people suffer from some degree of neck strain after a car accident. This is an injury to the muscles that support the head.
Neck strains can range from being very mild to quite serious. There are 4 different levels of neck strains.
Grade I is the mildest form. Most people with Grade I neck strain can continue with their usual activities, perhaps with slight modifications.
They can easily manage the pain with over-the-counter pain medications. Plus, the discomfort will only last a few days. If the pain persists longer than a week, the strain may not be as mild as you think and you should see your doctor.
Grade II is a type of neck strain that only affects the muscle. This is also a rather mild injury and is not likely to cause pain for an extended period of time.
Neither of these two strain types leaves lasting damage to the structure of the neck.
A Grade III strain is a more serious issue. This type of neck strain is categorized by damage to the nerves. Symptoms can include feeling weak and experiencing electrical sensations shooting down an arm.
If you experience these symptoms, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. This will improve your chances of a successful and lasting recovery.
Grade IV neck strains are serious business. In these cases, a patient should not even be moved before being attended by medical personnel.
2. Neck Sprains
Whereas neck strains are injuries to the muscles, sprains affect the ligaments. They are similar to strains in that there are different levels of severity ranging from mild to severe.
Like strains, there are 4 grades and each grade is similar with III indicating nerve damage, and IV being serious and possibly life-threatening.
3. Muscle Spasms
Muscle spasms are also common after a car accident. Many times these spasms are actually indicative of another type of injury. They can indicate neck strains, sprains, or even a disc injury in the spinal column, which we’ll talk more about in a minute.
Muscle spasms will often clear up on their own. Unless, of course, the spasms are being caused by something more serious, like a disc injury.
Whiplash is an extremely common neck injury from a car accident. It occurs because of the violent back-and-forth motion created by the force of the crash. The soft tissues (tendons, muscles, and ligaments) are overextended, resulting in tears.
The symptoms of whiplash usually don’t appear until 24 hours or more after the injury. This is why it is always important to exchange information and call the appropriate authorities for any crash, no matter how minor.
There may not be much visible damage to your car, but there may be internal damage to you or a passenger.
Whiplash symptoms include:
- Neck pain
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Problems concentrating
If you are suffering from whiplash you probably won’t experience all of these symptoms. But be on the lookout as any of these symptoms can be indicative of the condition.
If the whiplash isn’t severe, you should begin to feel better within a few days. Over-the-counter painkillers should be sufficient to manage the pain. Plus, icing the injury and other home remedies should help deaden the pain and speed the healing process.
If symptoms worsen or if you experience localized weakness or tingling in your extremities you should see a doctor. Bladder and bowel problems may even appear and you should seek medical attention if that happens.
Whiplash has been known to affect people for weeks or even months or years after the initial injury. Seeking medical attention when necessary can help avoid this long-term pain and discomfort.
5. Spinal Disc Injuries
The force exerted on your body during a car accident doesn’t just affect your neck. It can also cause serious problems with your spinal cord.
Your spinal cord is made up of a serious of bones and discs. The discs are filled with a gel-like substance. If the disc is ruptured, this substance can escape and will often fall on your nerve endings. This causes extreme pain.
Whether the disc slips, ruptures, herniates or bulges you can end up in some serious pain. If this is the cause of your neck pain, you will probably feel more than just pain in your neck. You may also experience a burning feeling, numbness, weakness, or a sensation like an
Sometimes disc injuries are not too severe and can be treated with physical therapy and a bit of medication. In other cases, the patient is not so lucky and will require surgery to get their spine back in place and working properly.
6. Cervical Fracture
The force involved in a car crash can easily lead to broken or fractured bones. Fractures in the face, extremities, and collarbone are most common. However, it’s also possible to fracture a cervical bone in the neck.
Obviously, a cervical fracture is a serious injury. Thankfully there are various treatment methods that can help a fractured cervical bone heal. Which one(s) are right for you depends on a variety of factors including age, medical history, and the severity of the injury.
Sometimes fractures are severe enough to destabilize your neck. In those cases, you may need to wear a halo brace to support your neck as you heal.
7. Cervical Dislocation
Severe cervical fractures are often accompanied by cervical dislocations. This occurs when a neck bone is thrust out of place by the impact.
Your neck bones are normally held in place by ligaments. The force of a car accident is enough to tear or even break the ligaments completely. It can also cause the ligaments to separate from the bones.
Mild dislocations will usually heal on their own. You may need to wear a collar to help stabilize the neck and support the bones as the ligaments heal.
More severe dislocations may require surgery to get the bone back in place. In some cases, a dislocation may also cause injuries to the spinal cord. As you’ll see in the next section, spinal cord injuries are nothing to play around with.
8. Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury is a serious injury that can lead to partial paralysis or even death.
Neck fractures and dislocations can injure your spinal cord. This is why if there is any suspicion at the scene that you have these injuries you should not be moved until a medical professional can assess your condition.
Additionally, the quality and speed of the care you receive can have a significant impact on your chances for a successful recovery.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are experiencing neck pain after a car accident that was not your fault, you are entitled to compensation. The best way to receive fair compensation is with a knowledgeable lawyer at your side.
Even if your symptoms don’t appear right away at the scene of the accident, you should always call the proper authorities.
The other driver may try to pressure you into not calling, especially if they know that the accident was their fault. But it is in your best interest to call.
By following the right channels you can make it easier for an attorney to build your personal injury case later. However, even if you don’t follow all the recommendations, perhaps especially so, you should still retain a lawyer.
A skilled lawyer will be able to win you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Don’t Let Neck Pain After a Car Accident Get You Down
It can feel impossible to get the compensation that you deserve after an accident that wasn’t your fault. But you shouldn’t let that get you down.
The right personal injury lawyer will ensure that you are appropriately compensated for your injuries. After all, it’s wasn’t your fault that you were injured and you’re losing days of work and having to pay unwelcome medical bills.
Not to mention the neck pain after a car accident that you’re suffering from.
We can make sure that you get what you deserve. Contact us today to get started with your free case review.
If you’ve been injured, Stephen Babcock is standing by to help you. Your case and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephens 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee. If you have any questions about this article or want to visit with a lawyer for free, call Stephen at (225) 500-5000 or contact us here. Or if you prefer, feel free to take advantage of our live chat system. Get Even! Call Stephen! Stephen Babcock.