What to do if you sustained a spinal injury in a crash
Spinal injuries are commonly caused by crashes, no matter how minor. It only takes a fender bender to throw off someone's neck or back.
The spine is one of the most important components to the human body. It keeps us mobile and provides structural support to the torso, limbs, and head. The vertebrae (spinal bones) protects the nerves in the spinal cord. The discs (gel-like cushioning) protect the vertebrae from wear and tear and allow the spine to bend.
The spine is highly sensitive, however. Even the slightest damage to the vertebrae, nerves, or discs can cause ongoing pain and discomfort. Without medical attention, it can get worse over time. If you were involved in a crash, you should always seek medical attention, even if you don't feel any pain.
How a car accident can damage the spine
The impact of a crash can damage the vertebrae, discs, and soft tissue surrounding the spine. Whiplash is the most common crash-related spinal injury. It's usually caused by a rear-end collision. When someone's neck rapidly whips backward and forward, the soft tissue encasing the cervical vertebrae becomes overstretched and damaged.
While whiplash doesn't usually cause immediate pain, symptoms can appear days later. It can take several months or years to recover. Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck
- Limited neck mobility
- Tenderness in the shoulders, upper back, and neck
- Pain in the face and jaw
- Burning and tingling in the arms
- Mood changes
More severe spinal injuries caused by crashes include:
- Slipped discs (herniated discs, disc bulges, disc protrusions): This happens when the fluid inside a disc spills and places pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord. Symptoms may include pain, burning, numbness or tingling in the limbs, as well as muscle weakness.
- Fractured vertebrae: When the vertebrae in the spine are broken, it can put pressure on the spinal cord and result in severe pain in the back, arms, and legs. Some people may lose mobility, the ability to walk, and bowel or bladder control.
How are accident-related spinal injuries treated?
After your crash, your doctor will identify and diagnose your spinal injury by taking x-rays or an MRI, as well as examining your spine for abnormalities. Minor spinal injuries may only require:
- Chiropractic treatment
- Medication for pain and inflammation
- Time off from work and rest
More serious spinal injuries may require corrective surgery, the use of a back brace, and several months of physical therapy, trigger point injections, epidural steroid injections, injecting nerve blockers, or surgery.
Treatment for a spinal injury will be expensive. What's worse, you may not be able to collect a paycheck and make ends meet while you're in recovery. Unfortunately, you can't count on the at-fault driver's insurance company to pick up the costs of medical bills, future medical care, lost wages, and other damages accrued from your crash.
That's where the car accident attorneys at Burns, Bryant, Cox, Rockefeller & Durkin, P.A. come in. Our firm has provided strong legal advocacy to injured people in New Hampshire for more than a century. Contact us online or call us at 603-742-2332 to find out how we can help you get compensated.