Key Points of This Article:
- Car crashes can cause severe neck and back injuries throughout the structures in and surrounding the cervical spine, neck, and in extreme cases, trauma to the brain.
- Minor to severe neck, shoulder, head, and back pain can present moments or even days after being involved in a crash. Therefore, you should always be reviewed by a medical professional to help diagnose any injuries.
- Also called a neck sprain or neck strain, whiplash symptoms are common post-accident injury pains. Whiplash can also reveal severe back and neck injuries, including lumbar sprains, spinal stenosis, disc, and joint injuries.
- Kentucky car accident injuries can trigger considerable economic losses to individuals and their families due to the cost of treatment and lost productivity for those killed or disabled by their injuries.
Could a Car Accident Injury Cause Ongoing Back and Neck Pain?
Back and neck injuries are among the most common injuries in vehicle accidents, especially rear-end crashes. This is due to a complex system of intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots that are likely to become impacted due to the speed of impact, load intensity, and how your body was stressed and strained.
If you have been involved in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, it’s relatively common to feel sore all over in the days to come. This may leave you wondering if your pain and discomfort are back or neck-related? However, knowing what to expect after an accident and how to identify any back and neck injury symptoms can help you decide what to do next.
Immediate symptoms of back and neck injuries:
- Intense pain in neck, shoulders, chest, back, or head
- Chronic headache
- Numbness in fingers or toes
- Tingling, burning sensations, or numbness in any part of your body
- Vertigo-like disruptions when walking or loss of balance
- The immediate onset of a severe headache
- Inability to focus
- Ringing in your ears
- Unable to control bowels or bladder
- Breathing difficulties
- Stiffness, unnatural or twisted body position
If you experience any of these symptoms while at the crash scene, let first responders know. You may need to be transported for emergency treatment.
Delayed Symptoms of Neck and Back Injuries Is Possible
Depending on the severity, back and neck injuries may not be immediately present after an accident and gradually increase in discomfort in the days and weeks to come. Therefore, watch out for these signs of a delayed neck or back injury.
- Belly pain, tenderness, swelling, or bruising
- Weakness or inability to lift relatively light things
- Pain or pinching sensations in the shoulders, neck, or back
- Feelings of tingling or numbness that doesn’t subside in the arms, hands, fingers, feet, and toes
- Decreased hearing or vision
- Developing feelings of stress, anxiety, or inexplicable panic
Even if you think you feel OK at the scene of the accident, and first responders clear you to leave, visit urgent care, or schedule an immediate injury screening with your primary care physician as soon as possible. And if you begin to recognize the delayed signs of back and neck injuries, seek medical help right away. These initial medical evaluations can reduce the chance of further health complications and provide a path for treatment so you can get on with your life. In addition, you are having any pain issues documented by a medical professional, which will help support insurance claims or legal actions that may be necessary to prove that the other driver’s negligence caused your injury.
Whiplash Can Reveal Advanced Neck and Back Injuries
The sudden force in which a person’s body is sent backward or forward and then thrust into the opposite direction during a crash creates unnatural spine movements and causes damage, friction, and tension throughout the body. This soft-tissue injury, more commonly referred to as whiplash, often occurs in low-velocity rear-end vehicle collisions. Symptoms and the timing of different pain sensations may vary for each injured individual but generally include one or more of the following:
- Neck and upper back pain and stiffness
- Back spasms
- Ongoing, lingering headache
- Shooting or dull pain with a simple movement
- Concussion-like symptoms
- Burning, tingling, or numbness in the arms and legs
- Shoulder or upper back pain
- Hip pain
While the prognosis for drivers (or passengers) with whiplash is good and pain clears within a few days or weeks, some people continue to have residual neck discomfort and headaches. Whiplash may reveal a more significant head, back, or neck injury as well as “chronic whiplash,” creating severe ligament sprains, a debilitating disc injury, or muscle strains that could require costly treatments or invasive surgeries.
Never Ignore First Signs of Pain and Schedule a Personal Injury Exam
Never ignore the symptoms of an injury caused by a car accident. Once an injury is suspected, regular visits with your family physician, orthopedic specialists, neurosurgeons, rehabilitation services, and pain management specialists are likely necessary. In addition, your medical team may order the following tests to determine the extent of your head, back, or neck injury so you can carry on with a rehabilitation plan.
- X-ray:An easy diagnostic test typically facilitated right after a crash if a fracture is suspected or spinal injury concerns are present.
- MRI:A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan may be performed to detect disc injuries or compression of a nerve or the spinal cord.
- MBB:Medial branch block (MBB) is an injection done to determine whether a facet joint contributes to any neck pain.
- CT scan:Computed tomography (CT scan), usually combined with myelogram (dye or contrast injected into the spinal canal), can also be used to help diagnose neck pain that does not respond to treatment.
- EMG/NCV:Electromyography and nerve conduction velocity (EMG/NCV) might be used to suspect nerve damage.
While there is no guarantee that an injury will show up on any of these tests, and some doctors are sometimes hesitant to perform imaging for less severe injuries, a second opinion may be necessary. Whiplash-associated disorders may also be present in the facet joints, spinal ligaments, intervertebral discs, vertebral arteries, dorsal and neck muscles.
No matter how minor a back or neck injury may seem, keep track of your symptoms in a journal. Then, when you visit with your doctor, your notes will support a diagnosis, and help identify physical therapy and medical procedures needed. You can also make notes about how your injury has impacted the daily activities of you and your family.
Contact a Kentucky Personal Injury Attorney Experienced in Back and Neck Injury Claims
Rhoads & Rhoads is Kentucky’s leading and experienced personal injury firm with offices in Owensboro and Madisonville, representing car accident victims throughout Western Kentucky. We offer free initial consultations, and all cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. We get paid only if we win or settle your case, so there is NO RISK involved. We can start the conversation today with a FREE consultation by calling 888-709-9329.