Over 12,000 people in the US suffer from spinal cord injuries each year, and over one-third of those injuries are from car accidents.
And an accident in a moving vehicle can often cause serious spinal injuries that change the course of your entire life.
The fact is car accident spinal injuries are more common than you think, and it’s important to know what to do if you find yourself in this situation.
So keep reading this guide to find out the 10 things you need to know about car accident spinal injuries.
See a Doctor Right Away
Often after a car accident, the shock of everything keeps your adrenaline pumping and the pain from your spine injuries at bay. One of the most important things you can do after you’re involved in an accident is seek medical care.
Even a small spinal misalignment or a strained muscle can lead to chronic pain and lifelong health issues. Even if you think you feel fine immediately afterward, it’s always a good idea to get yourself checked out.
And many whiplash injuries can be severe, but you don’t always feel the symptoms right away, even after the adrenaline stops pumping.
See a Car Accident Chiropractor
If you’ve suffered from a cervical spine injury from a car accident, then you should find a car accident chiropractor. Good car accident chiropractors are experienced in dealing with common spine injuries like a herniated disc or whiplash.
Make sure you find a car accident chiropractor who offers a free consultation and has experience working with a personal injury lawyer.
A good car accident chiropractor will offer you a customized treatment plan specific to your injury.
Serious Spinal Injuries Are Common
One of the most serious and common injuries people get from a major car accident is an injury to their spinal cord.
A serious spine injury or vertebral fracture often requires surgery, rehab, and many months of healing. Serious spine injuries can also lead to paralysis. Even with treatment, you can be left with further deterioration of your spine as well as chronic pain.
Find an Experienced Accident Attorney
If you’re involved in an accident and are injured, you will need an experienced accident attorney for the legal issues.
You will need financial compensation to pay for your medical treatment, physical therapy, and time missed from work. Not to mention any future work loss or changes in career due to your injury.
Whiplash Is Common
Serious spine injuries are common, but so is whiplash. Whiplash occurs when you’re rear-ended, which causes your neck to snap back and forth rapidly. This results in trauma to your cervical spine (neck) area.
Whiplash usually develops within two to three days after an accident, and you’ll notice symptoms like:
- Problems sleeping
- Feeling dizzy
- Feeling tired
- Feeling irritable
- Headaches and a stiff neck
- Numbness and tingling in your arms
The Force Causes Herniated Discs
The discs in your spine cushion your vertebrae and act like little shock absorbers. When you’re in an accident, the force of the trauma can rupture or herniate your discs. Symptoms you’ll notice include:
- Muscle weakness
- A burning pain that radiates from your back to arms or legs
- Numbness and tingling in your arms and legs
Vertebral Fractures Occur
Just like any other bone in your body, you can also fracture the vertebrae in your back. Vertebral fractures are more common in car accident injuries that result from a high-speed accident.
Though many fractures heal with rest over time, other fractures can be much more serious and result in severe damage to your spine. Fractures like burst fractures can happen where your vertebrae fractures into multiple fragments resulting in paralysis and death.
You’ll also find flexion vertebral fractures that result from the force of the ancient, where the upper part of your is thrown forward while your lower half stays in place.
Watch for Back Sprains
You may not also experience broken bones from a car accident, but strains and sprains on your back can cause just as much damage and pain.
Back strains and sprains are common car accident spinal injuries and involve straining the tendons and ligaments in your back. These can often be difficult to detect, and it can take longer to recover from back sprains than it does from a broken bone.
Exercise and Physical Therapy Are Key
Remember, while you need to rest and recover, staying immobile for long periods of time can delay your recovery and cause you more pain and stiffness.
Once you have your doctor’s approval, it’s important to incorporate light stretching and exercise into your daily routine as soon as possible.
It’s also a good idea to do physical therapy to strengthen your back muscles, flexibility, and range of motion. Proper healing and physical therapy are crucial to preventing re-injury and long-term complications.
Recovery Is a Long Process
Recovery from a spine injury is a unique and individual process, which often takes a long time. Remember, your age, health, and severity of the accident all play a huge part in your recovery time.
If you’ve had surgery, fractures, or even severe whiplash, it could take you years to fully recover. And it’s not just physical symptoms you need to address, but your emotional health too.
Car Accident Spinal Injuries
Now that you know 10 things about car accident spinal injuries, you’ll be better able to help yourself or help a friend.
Recovery isn’t easy, but every day you’ll be one step closer to getting your life back on track.
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