Car accidents can result in severe consequences and devastating personal trauma—one of the most impairing implications of a car accident is a spinal cord injury. The spinal cord is a system of nerves trailing from the brain to the lower back. It is a crucial nervous system component that transmits sensitive information from one’s brain to the entire body for motor commands between the brain, muscles and organs, reflex actions, and other sensory information. Spinal injuries are often life-altering for the individual and their families and require extensive medical attention.
The severity of these spinal injuries can vary, so it is important to remain informed on the types of spinal injuries to receive the best treatment and help for your circumstances. Spinal injuries can include whiplash, herniated discs, spinal fractures, spinal cord injuries, and nerve damage. And result in symptoms such as muscle weakness, numbness, loss of motion, difficulty breathing, tingling sensations, and stinging along the spine. Although the severity of symptoms from spinal injuries may initially seem minor if left untreated, they can develop more serious conditions later. If you or someone you know is in a car accident and experiences spinal injuries, seeking medical attention and legal advice is vital.
Types of spinal injuries
The most common type of spinal injury that can result from a car crash is whiplash. Whiplash is a type of strain on the neck when your head experiences a rapid movement back and forth, causing the tendons in your neck to overextend and tear.
Symptoms of whiplash typically appear at least 24 hours after the initial incident and can last for several weeks. Common symptoms include neck, shoulders, and back pain, dizziness, stiff neck, tenderness, and headache. However, if left untreated, these can become severe, including blurred vision, irritability, ringing ears, memory problems, and depression.
Whiplash is typically self-treatable. However, seeking medical attention to alleviate symptoms and ensure no further damage is always crucial.
This type of spinal injury is also known as a slipped or ruptured disc and is most common in the middle and lower back; however, it can also result from whiplash. In between each vertebra, located in your spine, are intervertebral discs. These disks provide cushioning between your vertebrae and allow for flexibility and movement within the spine. When a car accident occurs, the rugged jolt can cause the hard outer layer of the disks to tear, allowing the soft inner part to jut out of its intended position.
Symptoms of a herniated disk include pain on one side of your body, pain when moving your neck or shoulders, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling, and radiating pain.
Herniated disks can be diagnosed through MRI or CT scans and are typically treated with pain medications, physical therapy, periods of rest, and in more severe cases, injections or surgery.
In addition to a herniated disc injury, it is also possible for individuals in car accidents to experience a disc bulge injury. A disc bulge occurs when one of the discs between the vertebrae of the spine becomes displaced beyond its normal placement. This type of injury differs from a herniated disk in that the soft inside does not rupture outside the harder outer layer of the disk.
Symptoms of a disc bulge are similar to herniated disk symptoms. They can include muscle weakness, numbness or tingling, radiating pain, pain in the arm, back, foot, or leg, and a stiff neck.
Medical professionals can diagnose a disc bulge injury through X-Rays or an MRI scan. They can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy, and potential lifestyle changes.
Spinal fractures are one of the most serious injuries from car accidents. They often occur because of quick changes in speed, ejection from the vehicle, seat belt injuries, or impact with other objects. A spinal fracture is when a break or crack in the bone/s of your spine causes the vertebrae to collapse.
Symptoms of spinal fractures include immediate pain and discomfort, limited mobility, bowel and bladder dysfunction, respiratory complications, spinal instability, tingling or numbness, and paralyzation of limbs.
Each spinal fracture is unique, and there are several types of fractures. Each recovery process may vary depending on the severity. However, it is common for this type of injury to be healed with pain medications, immobilization, surgery, and rehabilitation.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are most common in car accidents. They are frequently life-threatening due to the sensitivity of your spinal cord. The spinal cord is a spongy bundle of tissues that runs inside your spine. It is the central part of the nervous system that sends signals from the brain to the rest of your body.
There are two types of spinal cord injuries: a complete spinal cord injury and an incomplete spinal cord injury. A complete SCI results in total paralyzation below the injury level, meaning a complete loss of function. An incomplete SCI results in partial loss of sensation and mobility below the injury level with some function remaining.
Spinal cord injuries have a variety of consequences depending on the type and severity of the injury. In most cases, individuals experience serious nerve damage, including loss of feeling, such as touch, temperature, pain, paralysis, bladder control, and intense neck, shoulders, and back pain.
Doctors cannot reverse damage caused by spinal cord injuries; however, medical professionals can assist in rehabilitation and skill recovery to prevent additional injury and further permanent injury.
How can a personal injury attorney help?
Spinal injuries as a result of car accidents yield several life-altering consequences. They can impact the victim’s quality of life. Personal injury attorneys understand the financial burden of medical bills and life-changing adjustments. We strive to hold those accountable for the pain they have caused and have the expertise to secure a fair settlement that will provide the compensation required to cover these expenses.
Consulting with a personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and obtain compensation for your injuries.
Remember, the road to recovery from a spinal injury can be long and strenuous. Still, with the right medical care, support, and legal guidance, you can rebuild your life and secure the satisfaction you deserve.