Motor vehicle accidents most commonly cause injuries to the spine. In fact, the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCSC) purports that car accidents are the leading cause of all spine injuries. If you are in an auto accident, you should know what to expect.
The most common spine injuries car accidents cause
Whiplash often accompanies rear-end crashes. It happens when the neck, or cervical spine, jolts back and forth rapidly. You may feel pain immediately, or it may appear hours, days or weeks after your accident.
A herniated disc is another common spine injury related to car crashes. It happens when the disc between the bones in the spine bulges or ruptures and places pressure on the surrounding nerves. It can produce burning pain or numbness and tingling.
Small breaks in the bones cause fractured vertebrae of the spine. Should the bone shatter and puncture the spinal cord, paralysis, and even death, can occur. Patients may experience pain that is worse with movement or numbness.
Diagnosing and treating spine injuries
Most spinal injuries can be diagnosed with computed tomography (CT) scans, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and evoked potential testing. These methods will vary depending on the severity of the spine injury. Often, suspected spine injuries will be imaged as soon as the patient arrives at the hospital.
Treatment varies depending on the degree of the injury. Over-the-counter pain relief and anti-inflammatories or chiropractic care may be recommended. For more severe injuries, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy or nerve blocks may alleviate pain and restore mobility.
What to do after getting into an accident
Treatment for a spinal injury following a motor vehicle accident can be financially devastating for the victim. A lawsuit may ensue, and an experienced personal injury attorney can be an aggressive advocate for you during this time.