Neck injuries are one of the most common and challenging personal injuries to result from car accidents. Car accident survivors are very susceptible to neck injuries because those passengers wearing seatbelts have their bodies secured. In a collision, the head and neck are in violent motion while the body is restrained. Even where an airbag is present, the head can be pushed forward into the airbag with great force, making passengers vulnerable to neck injury.
The neck is a crucial and complex part of the body. Doctors and surgeons have limited access to much of the neck area, so many neck injuries tend to be permanent or complex. As well, since the neck area is constantly moving and supporting the head, any injury to this area can be extremely severe. In the most extreme injuries, neck injuries lead to fatalities. Survivors of such injuries often have severe, permanent injuries.
The most common types of neck injuries arising from car accidents include:
1) Pinched nerves. Nerves can become pinched due to broken bones or ruptured disks. When damage to the nerves occurs, the result is usually extreme pain. Also, many nerves in the neck area tend to be linked to the spinal cord and arms. This means that patients with pinched nerves sometimes find that an arm is in extreme pain or experiences numbness or weakness due to a neck injury. Pinched nerves also inhibit mobility due to the pain they cause.
2) Neck sprain. Ligaments connect the bones in the neck. When these ligaments tear, stretch, or otherwise are damaged, the result is a neck sprain. Neck sprains result in severe pain as well as stiffness in the neck area which can extend into the back as well.
3) Herniated discs in the neck. The vertebrae in the neck are protected by soft tissue, which also protects the discs in the neck. When the tissue is damaged or torn, part of the disc the tissue is meant to protect protrudes into the spinal column, putting pressure on muscles and nerves. A herniated disc results in extreme pain. Most people with a herniated disc experience stiffness and difficulty with regular motion.