Six of the 70 Clovis Unified District students riding on a bus that recently crashed were transported to the hospital after the crash, with some complaining of neck pain.
Neck injuries are often among the most dangerous and debilitating injuries one can experience. They can result in the need for long-term care and medical assistance. If you’ve suffered a neck injury in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, an experienced spinal cord injury attorney can help you recover the compensation you need to face the future.
Many things can cause neck injuries, including:
The following is a list of the most common accident-related neck injuries.
As explained by Mayo Clinic, the condition known as whiplash involves the soft tissues that surround the spinal column and occurs when the neck makes a forceful back-and-forth motion like a whip. While this type of injury is most commonly caused by rear-end car accidents, it may also be caused by sports injuries, physical abuse, or other types of trauma. The symptoms of whiplash generally appear within 24 hours of the injury and may include:
While many people get over the symptoms of whiplash within a few weeks, some people have chronic pain that lingers for months or years. Some of the conditions that most often cause long-term complications from whiplash include a prior neck injury or pre-existing neck or back pain, or age. Chronic pain as the result of whiplash is more prevalent in those who experience intense early symptoms such as severe neck pain spreading to the arms, as well as headaches.
The spine extends from the base of the skull to the buttocks and contains a series of connected bones known as vertebrae. These vertebrae are connected by a disc and two small facet joints. Spinal discs consist of a tough, fibrous outer layer surrounding a jelly-like interior. Injuries can result in the outer layer of the disc weakening, causing the disc to bulge, or can even result in a rupturing of the disc—known as a herniated disc—that causes the soft inner filling of the disc to ooze out. The herniated disc then creates pressure on the nerves, resulting in pain, numbness, or weakness in the arms and occasionally the legs, as well.
Symptoms of a herniated disc in the neck include:
While a herniated disc may show improvement with rest, exercises specifically designed to treat the condition, and time, this condition sometimes requires surgery to repair the affected disc. In severe cases, the disc must be removed and either replaced by an artificial one or repaired by fusing the vertebrae. If not treated, a herniated disc may result in permanent nerve damage.
A cervical fracture—commonly referred to as a broken neck—is a fracture to one or more of the seven cervical vertebrae in the spine. This type of injury is most commonly experienced in car accidents or by diving into shallow water. Cervical fractures are generally caused by a severe and sudden twist of the neck. The main risk of a cervical fracture is that the broken pieces of bone may cause damage to the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis or even death.
A broken neck is a very painful condition that often results in the victim’s inability to move their head. Additional symptoms may include difficulty balancing or walking, and tingling in the hands and feet. Breaks that don’t involve the spinal cord are often treated with the use of a neck brace, pain relieving medications, and rest. For more severe breaks, surgery may be required to set the bones in the correct place and repair the breaks. Cervical fractures that involve the spinal cord allow for very few options as the spinal cord is unable to heal itself on its own and there are currently no approved treatments for repairing spinal cord injuries.
A simple break may heal within six to eight weeks. Breaks that involve surgery may heal in months. Breaks involving the spinal cord can result in permanent injury.
The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular structure made up of nerves extending from the base of the skull to the buttocks. The spinal cord serves three main functions:
As many as 450,000 people in the U.S. are currently living with a spinal cord injury, and about 17,000 new spinal injuries occur across the nation each year. Motor vehicle accidents account for the majority of spinal cord injuries in younger people, while falls are responsible for the majority of spinal cord injuries in people over the age of 65. Other common causes of spinal cord injuries include acts of violence and sports-related injuries. Younger males are most likely to experience a spinal cord injury, with individuals between the ages of 16 and 30 accounting for more than half of the victims of this type of injury, and men making up 80 percent of spinal cord injury patients.
Spinal cord injuries fall into two categories:
Symptoms of a spinal cord injury following trauma include:
Non-surgical treatments of spinal cord injuries include observation in the intensive care unit and may also include traction of the spine to move the spinal cord back into alignment. The individual’s blood pressure, ventilation, and cardiovascular function will be monitored. Surgery may be required to stabilize the area and to prevent future pain and deformity. Unfortunately, there is no current non-surgical or surgical means for repairing the spinal cord itself.
The more severe the neck injury, the higher the risk of complications. Spinal cord injuries pose the highest risk of complications, due to the body’s inability to function properly below the site of the injury. Some complications people with spinal cord injuries may face are:
The majority of functional improvements that can be made following a spinal cord injury occur within the first six months after the injury. Loss of function that is still present after a year is likely to be permanent. This is why early and aggressive treatment, as well as a vigorous approach to physical therapy, offers the best opportunity for meaningful improvement after a spinal cord injury.
Individuals with a cervical spinal cord injury can face several lifelong needs, which may include:
The cost of treating a spinal cord injury is generally between $350,000 and $985,000 in the first year, and as much as $5 million during the patient’s lifetime.
Recovering from a neck injury is stressful enough without worrying about whether you have enough money to pay for the injury-related expenses you will face now and in the future. If your neck injury is due to an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover those expenses through a personal injury claim. A personal injury attorney can help you understand the legal options that are available in your case.