July 12, 2011
Neck and Back Injuries

Neck and Back Injuries

I represent dozens of clients relating to personal injuries, and I have settled hundreds. What is the most common injury? Neck and back injuries are the most common, by far.

Why? The spine bears the force of auto collisions. Thankfully, these days, most of us wear our seat belts. This is good for preventing all kinds of trauma that can occur in an auto collision. But, the spine still suffers. When a car is hit, the kinetic force travels into our bodies. This causes our neck and back to violently bend in ways that it does not want to go.

The most common injury is the “whiplash” injury. During a collision, the weight of our head causes our neck to whip forward and then back violently. The muscles and ligaments surrounding the cervical spine (the neck) are stretched and torn, causing a sprain or strain injury. Whiplash is painful. The neck can be sore for months. It is not the same as getting a “crook” in your neck from sitting under the air conditioner too long.

Worse yet, neck injuries will often irritate the occipital nerve at the base the skull. This causes painful headaches. I have had some clients who developed these headaches permanently.

Just as with the neck, the mid- and low back can suffer the same “sprain or strain” injuries, which can take months to heal.

Sometimes, the injuries are worse than “sprain or strain” injuries. The trauma of the collision can damage the gelatinous discs between the vertebrae. Trauma can cause discs to bulge or “herniate” (a balloon-type bulge). The discs can also tear, allowing the acidic contents to leak from the disc. Herniated discs can be very painful, particularly if the disc presses on the nerves that exit the spine. Many of my clients with bulging or herniated discs report permanent pain and discomfort, along with numbness or tingling feelings in their arms or legs.

Generally, the harder the collision, the more likely it is to suffer neck and back injuries. But not always, I have had several doctors tell me that they have seen paralysis cases arising from relatively slow collisions.

-Ethan Vessels