Possible Neck and Back Injuries After a Car Accident
When you have just been in a car accident, there are lots of things going through your mind. Everything seems like a priority, but the most important thing to do is to make sure you are okay physically.
One of the worst things you can do is downplay any discomfort or symptoms you are having. What might seem like minor issues can allude to larger problems down the line.
If you are experiencing any neck and back injuries following a car accident, seek medical help and contact a car accident lawyer.
Possible Car Accident Neck and Back Injuries
There are many different types of neck and back injuries you can sustain. In any situation, a myriad of factors can play into what injury occurs. From impact type (side, front, back) to whether or not you are wearing a seatbelt, there are many things that can go wrong.
If you are experiencing discomfort in the neck and/or back, you should address it right away. Given the sensitivity of the spine and its ability to control the rest of your limbs, it is imperative that you double-check any discomfort with a doctor. Here are a couple of the most common neck and back injuries caused during car accidents:
- Herniated Discs: The spine has squishy discs in between the vertebrae that protect them from damage. Any harsh force (like the kind caused by a crash impact) can cause a disc to slip out of place and cause mild to severe back pain.
- Spinal Fractures: Fractures in the spine are typically caused by the seatbelt. If the force of the impact is hard enough, it can pull on the spinal column while the seatbelt pulls down, resulting in fractures. These injuries can cause bladder issues, weak muscles, and shooting pains (among other symptoms).
- Whiplash: This is a more difficult injury to notice right away. Whiplash causes soreness in the neck muscles and can be quite painful, although symptoms sometimes do not present until days after the initial trauma.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Trauma to the spinal cord can cause injuries to the neck, back, legs, arms, etc. because it extends from the brain all the way to the lower back.
It is not always certain when you will experience pain as a result of neck and back injuries. Neck pain or back pain may come even years after the accident. Because these areas are so sensitive, the slightest agitation can change the severity of the pain. While some injuries are immediately apparent following an accident, others can take weeks, months, or years to present.
While they may not be obvious right away, it is good to know what types of pain to look for. Neck and back injuries can manifest as pain in any other area of the body, as the nerves in the spine feed into all the limbs. Still, there are some telltale signs you have suffered a neck or back injury following a car accident.
Symptoms of Neck and Back Injuries
Neck and back injuries are so important to recognize and treat right away because they can lead to the impairment of almost every other region of the body.
Here are some common neck and back pain symptoms to look out for:
- Swollen or stiff back
- Inability to control bladder
- Weak/tired feeling in muscles
- Trouble breathing, standing, or walking
- Leg and arm pain
- Heaviness in the neck or difficulty rotating head from side to side
- Immediate headache
- Numbness, tingling, or burning sensation in any part of your body
Delayed Symptoms of Neck and Back Injuries
- Decreased hearing or vision
- Headaches up to a few days after an accident
- Tingling or numbness that does not go away
- Swelling, bruising, or tenderness
- Pain and pinching sensation in your neck or back
The best way to stay safe following an accident is to seek medical treatment at a hospital as soon as you can. Even if you do not feel any major issues, you want to make sure there are no underlying internal injuries that will be catastrophic to your health.
It is not enough to wait for symptoms to show—some neck and back injuries have no initial symptoms and can only be diagnosed with CT scans or X-rays. The pain in your neck and back may last anywhere from several days to even years if not addressed properly.
For insurance and legal purposes, it is crucial to document the extent of your injuries if you are at all able. You want to have evidence of any physical damages should you need it for a legal battle at any point following your car accident. There are many types of documentation you can secure.
In the case of injuries, a picture really is worth a thousand words. As some injuries heal quickly, it is important to get photos right away. You will also want to take photos throughout the recovery process. These will help you show the extent of your injuries.
Write it Down
Whether you are in the hospital or not, keeping a written record of your emotions, physical pain, or anything related to injuries is beneficial for both insurance companies and legal teams. It is important to create both a visual and written account of all the damages you have incurred since your accident.
Another thing you need to document or keep track of is your medical bills, treatments, or doctor’s visits. This would include the cost of prescription drugs, office visits or checkups, co-pays, or insurance bills.
What to Do After an Accident? -Seek Legal Help
Neck and back injuries may present themselves sometime after the initial accident. As such, it is not always easy to know right away if you need legal help to recoup physical damages. Although it may not feel like it, some of the smallest injuries can turn out to be devastating later on.
Through the process of documenting your physical, emotional, and mental struggles following a car accident, you can set yourself up for an easier legal battle. Traumatic neck and back injuries that cause months or years of pain may mean you are entitled to legal damages.
Legal Help in Florida
The founder of SteinLaw, Brandon Stein, has built the law firm around the client experience. As one of the premier legal firms in Florida, SteinLaw provides the highest level of client care. Unlike our competitors, clients at SteinLaw have a direct line of communication with their attorneys. Each lawyer at SteinLaw is dedicated to ensuring their clients are updated throughout every step of their legal battle.
If you live in Florida, you should consider contacting the SteinLaw team to see if you have a legal case to make.
Car Accident Back/Neck Injuries FAQs
How Long After an Accident Can Neck or Back Injuries Appear?
While back or neck injury symptoms may start immediately, they also may not show up for hours, days, or even weeks after your accident. Why?
When you get into an accident, your body is flooded with adrenaline and endorphins. In addition to making you feel shaky, these hormones can also mask pain for a surprisingly long time after an accident. Once these hormones drop back down to normal levels, pain, stiffness, numbness, tingling, and other symptoms may appear.
Common injuries that may develop or start to display symptoms a long time after the accident include:
- Herniated or slipped disk
- Soft tissue injuries
- Spinal injury
- Anxiety, depression, or PTSD
How Do You Know if a Back or Neck Injury Is Serious?
Short answer: All back and neck injuries have the potential to be serious and should be checked out as soon as you start having symptoms. In addition to ensuring your injuries do not become worse as a result of ignoring them, seeking medical attention provides valuable documentation of your injuries if you choose to pursue compensation for them.
Longer answer: According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, you should see a healthcare provider if you have:
- Pain after an injury or fall
- Severe neck or back pain that does not decrease with medication and rest
- Loss of bladder or bowel control, with weakness in both legs
- Numbness, weakness, or tingling in your arms or legs
- Unintentional weight loss
Additionally, Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage requirement automatically covers 80% of your medical expenses related to an accident regardless of who was at fault for the accident – but only if you receive medical care within 14 days of the accident.
Since any neck or back injury has the potential to be serious, you should seek medical attention ASAP to take advantage of PIP insurance and start a paper trail in case you seek further compensation in the future.
Why Do My Neck and Back Hurt After a Car Accident?
The human body encounters an immense amount of force in an accident. The neck and back are extremely sensitive to sudden movements and force, so a car accident can cause your back and neck to hurt even if you do not suffer any broken bones or other seemingly serious injuries. Common causes of back or neck pain after an accident include:
- Sprains and strains
- Herniated disc
- Spinal stenosis (compression of the spinal cord)
- Spinal cord injuries
What Are the Symptoms of Back or Neck Injury From a Car Accident?
Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries. Whiplash symptoms include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Lost range of motion in neck
- Worsening pain with neck movement
- Pain or tenderness in the upper back, shoulders, or arms
- Headaches that usually start at the base of the skull
- Numbness or tingling in the arms
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Blurred vision
- Memory problems
- Sleep disturbances
Symptoms of other neck and back injuries include:
- Pain in the back, neck, head, or shoulders
- Sagging joint, arm, or shoulder
- Bump or deformity near injury
- Pain that worsens with activity
- Grinding sensation during movement
- Trouble focusing, headaches, migraines, or vertigo
- Lack of mobility
- Restricted range of motion
- Inflammation, bruising, swelling, or redness