Automobile accidents are one of the leading causes of spine injuries and are responsible for more than 40 percent of injuries every year. That is a troubling statistic. Because automobile accidents cannot always be prevented, having the right understanding of spine injuries can allow people to recognize injury and seek proper treatment.
The spine is an intricate structure, but additionally it is delicate. The spine isn’t designed to withstand the harmful effects of an automobile accident. Regrettably, spine and neck injuries are common during auto collisions; the impact damages the muscles and the ligaments in the back, and the facet joints bear the brunt of the force. This could result in injuries, such as compression fractures, disk herniation, whiplash, and spondylolisthesis.
It is essential to be able to spot the symptoms of damage or injury, so if you or someone you love is hurt, its important to understand what steps you should follow for proper care. Some auto accidents may be made worse when the injured individual is moved. You should seek the assistance of a medical professional if you experience back or neck pain following an automobile collision. A muscle strain may heal by itself, but if neck or back pain persists due to a much more serious condition or injury, the affected individual could feel pain for months or years if left untreated.
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Identifying Damage or Injury
How do you know if back or neck pain is simply a muscle strain, or even a more significant injury or condition? Until you are evaluated by a healthcare specialist, you likely won’t know for certain, however there are a number of indications that may indicate that aid is needed. A few of the neck and back injuries include:
Whiplash is more common during rear-end collisions, as the force from impact suddenly pushes the head backward, then forward, much like the movement of hammering a whip. Front-end collisions generally do not result in whiplash, as the headrest often stops the motion of the head and neck. Symptoms of whiplash will appear within one day of the crash, and might include stiffness and pain in the neck, headaches which are often at the bottom of the skull, dizziness, blurred vision, and fatigue. Sometimes, an individual with whiplash may experience difficulty concentrating, memory problems, ringing in the ears, difficulty sleeping, and irritability.
Compression fractures are common in the thoracic and cervical spine (middle and lower back) after a car crash. While the entire body is held in place with a seatbelt, during impact, the body may be thrown forward. This can pull on the vertebrae. As the vertebrae may rarely move, in some cases, spinal fractures may result in spinal cord injuries. Those with spinal cord injuries may experience tingling, numbness, weakness, or loss of bowel and bladder control, although the main symptom of a spinal fracture is mild to severe back pain that interferes with movement. When a fracture is suspected, it is important not to move the injured person; harm could be caused by motion.
Spondylolisithesis occurs when a vertebra shifts from place because of a stress fracture in bone. The bone that is displaced can press on the nerves or narrow the spinal canal, causing pain, numbness, or weakness in the buttock or leg, and trouble walking. In extreme cases, it may lead to loss of bladder or bowel control. Some people don’t experience symptoms until many years later, or experience no symptoms in any way.
Considering that the discs absorb the vast majority of the impact to the spine, it is possible to get a disc to herniate through an automobile crash. A disc is herniated if its tender core pushes through a little crack in the outside of the disc, irritating the nerves. Many people today experience no symptoms, but others might experience leg or arm pain, depending on the location of the herniated disc, and might experience tingling, numbness, or weakness in the region.
What to Do if You’ve Got a Spinal Injury
Should you encounter any back or neck pain at all following a car crash, you should be evaluated by a healthcare professional to rule out any severe injury. But, it is important to get medical care immediately in case you experience tingling, numbness, fatigue, or lack of bowel or bladder control. These are indications of a more serious injury that has to be addressed immediately.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Automobile Accident Injuries
Whiplash, among other automobile accident injuries, are frequently reported by victims of an auto collision, regardless of the severity and grade of the accident. The sheer force of an impact can cause damage or injury to the cervical spine, as well as to the rest of the spine. Whiplash is generally the result of an abrupt, back-and-forth jolt of the head and neck in any direction. Fortunately, a variety of treatments are available to treat automobile accident injuries.
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The information herein on "The Dangers of Auto Accidents | Neck Injury Specialist" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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