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Common Causes of Neck Pain After an Auto Accident

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Getting into a vehicle accident can be a scary and traumatic experience for those involved. Unfortunately, accidents can also lead to various types of injuries, including neck pain. Neck and back injuries in the aftermath of vehicle accidents can be complicated to diagnose, often because the signs and symptoms of these injuries may not appear until hours or days after the crash occurs. It is crucial that all vehicle crash victims seek medical assistance so they can be evaluated and treated for any injuries, even those they may not be aware of right away. Here, we want to discuss the common causes of neck pain after a vehicle accident.

Is all neck pain called whiplash?

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries a person can experience in the aftermath of a vehicle accident. Whiplash occurs anytime a person’s head and neck is jerked back and forth rapidly due to some sort of outside force. Whiplash injuries must be taken seriously, and victims often require rest in order to make a recovery. Sometimes, whiplash victims need to use a neck brace. Some of the most common symptoms of whiplash include the following:

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck
  • Difficulty turning your neck
  • Pain that worsens with neck movement
  • Headaches beginning at the base of the skull
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Tenderness or pain in the arms, shoulder, or upper back
  • Fatigue and dizziness

However, while some people may assume they only have a mild case of whiplash after a vehicle accident, some of the common neck aches and pains can be early signs of a more serious injury.

Other types of neck injuries caused by a vehicle accident

The spine, shoulders, and head are all other areas of the body commonly injured in a car accident. Injuries to any of these areas can result in neck pain. Some of the most common injuries that can affect the neck in the aftermath of a vehicle accident include the following:

  • Herniated discs. The discs in your spine are essentially jelly-filled shock absorbers located between your vertebrae. When a collision occurs, the force of the incident can cause the disc’s contents to push against their exterior, resulting in bulges or ruptures. A herniated disc can be painful, and the bulge or rupture could pinch the spinal nerves and crowd other spaces around your vertebrae.
  • Cervical spondylolisthesis. When a person has cervical spondylolisthesis, this means at least one of the vertebrae has dislocated or fallen out of alignment. This is commonly caused by the aging process, and some people suffer from this without even realizing it. However, a traumatic crash can also cause these dislocations, particularly at the top of the neck. Vertebrae that move too far out of alignment can result in significant pain. Cervical spondylolisthesis may need to be treated with stabilization surgery.
  • Compression and other spinal fractures. Compression fractures are the most common type of vertebrae fracture that can occur. High impact collisions are much more likely to cause a fracture to the sturdy bones in your spine. If the force is strong enough, the impact can shatter or compress vertebrae and even send bone fragments into the spinal canal. Most of these fractures occur in the mid to lower back, but they are also possible in the neck. These injuries could lead to significant pain as well as paralysis.

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, speak with an Orange County car accident lawyer for legal assistance.

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