The neck is one of the most vulnerable places of the body in a car accident. Frequently, car accident victims will experience damage to the spinal vertebrae or intervertebral discs of the cervical spine. The cervical spine, which consists of the top 7 vertebrae of the spine, can cause pain and disability throughout the neck, shoulders, arms and hands.
The spine consists of 33 bony vertebrae stacked on top of each other, each separated by a soft, firm intervertebral disc. These discs consist of a pulpy center surrounded by a firm layer of cartilage. The discs act to hold the vertebrae together and also give flexibility to the spine. The spinal discs surround the spinal canal, which houses all of the nerves of the spinal column.
In a collision, an accident victim’s neck can jerk violently forwards, backwards, or side to side. Whiplash, or cervical strain, is a common injury that car accident victims face. Neck strain involves the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the cervical spine. They are stretched and torn as a result of the force of an auto collision.
However, the damage to the cervical spine does not always stop at the musculature and tissue. Sometimes, the intervertebral discs can become damaged as well. If a disc becomes herniated, part of the pulpy tissue can push through into the spinal canal. If it encroaches upon the spinal nerves, it can cause extreme pain, numbness, and tingling. Numbness and tingling, otherwise known as radiculopathy, in the arms or hands indicates disc damage in the cervical spine.
Sometimes, disc injuries are so severe that they require surgical intervention. This is not always the case, though. There are many other types of more conservative treatment that can relieve symptoms of cervical spine injury.
Trigger point injections are delivered directly into the muscles of the neck and back. Cervical spine injuries may necessitate injections into the neck, shoulder area, or mid-back. When the muscles of the neck and tense and tight, it can cause severe pain and headaches. Trigger points are little knots of muscle that can cause pain in large areas. An injection includes a corticosteroid and a local anesthetic that can relax the muscle knot and relieve pain.
Facet injections can also be administered to the cervical spine area to relieve pain. The facet joints are small joints on each vertebra. Anesthetic and pain relief medication can be injected into the facets to help relieve pain. Pain in the head, neck, shoulder or arm that is not relieved by other methods may be relieved by a facet injection.
Sometimes the source of headache and neck pain is the occipital nerves, which are located at the back of the head at the top of the neck. An occipital nerve block is an injection that delivers anesthesia and steroid medication to these nerves at the top of the neck. Persistent headache is a common symptom of accident victims who are suffering from cervical spine injuries. The steroid injected into the nerve can relieve some of the swelling in this area.
In a procedure called radio frequency ablation, radio waves are used to create heat that destroys damaged nerve tissue. Nerves can become damaged in a car accident, and they send uncontrolled pain signals to the brain. By killing off the damaged nerve, an injury victim’s pain can be controlled. This procedure is also known as a rhizotomy. The radio waves are sent to the nerve root between the facet joint and the vertebrae, and can eliminate pain for a period of time until the nerve grows back.
Epidural steroid injections, or ESI’s, are also used to control pain in the cervical spine. In this procedure, anesthetic and steroid medication is injected into the space between the vertebrae and nerve root. Frequently, the patient is put under anesthesia while the procedure is performed. ESI’s can provide relief by reducing inflammation of the nerve root and epidural area in the vertebrae.
As you can see, there are many different types of treatment available for car accident victims who suffer from cervical spine injuries. It is important to seek treatment from a medical professional if you have been injured in a collision. There are many procedures available that can provide relief for your neck pain.
Ty Wilson is a Savannah injury attorney. Visit tywilsonlaw.com to read his many articles, to watch his videos and to order his FREE books BEFORE talking to the insurance adjuster, signing any forms or hiring a lawyer.
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