Some of the most common car accident injuries are spinal injuries. And, often, they are not immediately identified. That is because after you’ve been injured in a car accident, your adrenaline may go into overdrive, masking the pain that you, no doubt, will feel later on. However, it is important to remember that that old adage about it hurting more in a few days often is true. So, it helps to know something about your spine and spinal injuries, and the many parts of the body that can be affected from this type of trauma.
The spine is separated into the following areas: the Cervical Vertebrae, the Thoracic Vertebrae, the Lumbar Vertebrae, and the Sacral Vertebrae. The Cervical Vertebrae, numbered C1 to C7, refers to the upper neck. The Thoracic Vertebrae, T1 to T12, refers to the lower neck. The Lumbar Vertebrae, L1 to L5, refers to the lower back. Below that are the Sacrum (S1) and the Coccyx.
In between each bone throughout the spine are spongy or jelly-like discs which enable you to move and also protect the bones – something like a shock absorber. Then, of course, there is the Spinal Cord. The Spinal Cord begins at the base of the brain, and goes down the length of the back.
The Spinal Cord contains nerves that emit sensation from the Spine into the Thoracic region, and affect the chest and abdomen. In other words, an injury to the Spine can affect nearly the entire human body.
Spinal Injury Symptoms
If you’ve been injured during a car accident, some of the symptoms of Spinal injury may include: headache, stiff neck or neck pain, arm or leg numbness, loss of movement in the arms or legs, unconsciousness, loss of bowel or bladder control, or shock. How can so much of your body be affected? Because the Spinal Cord carries messages between the brain and the rest of the body. But, again, sometimes the symptoms do not manifest right away. That is why regardless of how you think you feel after an accident, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible to rule out any serious damage or injuries.
Common Types Of Injuries
In the U.S., car accidents and motorcycle accidents account for approximately 40% of various spinal injuries. These include neck strain or sprain (whiplash), herniated disc injuries, or pinched nerves (also known as Cervical Radiculopathy).
Neck strains or sprains occur when your neck muscles are severely pulled during impact. Discomfort from these injuries may go away within a few weeks, but also could linger for many months. A herniated disc occurs when the outer fibrous ring of the disc tears and the jelly-like nucleus pulposus squeezes out into the spinal canal.
This may result in pain from compression on one of the nerves. In cases of Cervical Radiculopathy, the nerve may be aggravated by a fragment of the ruptured disc, which may result in numbness or weakness in the muscles.
These common injuries may not be fatal, but they certainly can be life-changing. Some people struggle with pain from these conditions for the rest of their lives, despite medication and physical therapy. In addition, as you age, these conditions may become exacerbated.
So, as discussed, when you’ve been involved in a car accident or motorcycle accident, your injuries are not always obvious or immediate. That is why it is vitally important that you see a doctor right away, and pay careful attention to how you are feeling days, weeks and even months afterwards. In addition, it is prudent to seek the advise of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. Should you have long-lasting effects from an injury that was not your fault, you are entitled to compensation.