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What to know about spine injuries and car accidents

The spine is a complex structure and quite flexible. Certain pressure enacted in just the right way can throw it out of alignment, displace discs, cause vertebral injuries, nerve damage, and even lead to progressive and chronic conditions like spondylolisthesis.

Did you know that motor vehicle accidents are responsible for more than 40 percent of all spinal injuries, according to the Mayo Clinic. This is troubling since many auto accidents cannot be prevented. Fortunately, having the right information can help you recognize when you have an injury that needs to be treated, thus preventing further injury and pain.

How to recognize an injury

Statistics show that low-speed car crashes can lead to bodily harm, even when there is no physical damage to the vehicle. Moreover, you may not know that you have an injury until you are evaluated by a physician. It is in your best interests to seek medical attention immediately after an accident to make sure you get the care and medical attention you need.

The most common spinal injury symptoms to look for after a car crash include:

Neck injury or whiplash: Symptoms of this type of injury will usually appear within 24 hours of the accident. The victim may experience:

  • Pain or stiffness in the neck area
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry or double vision

Numbness or loss of feeling can signal a problem with nerve damage. Nerve damage can occur due to a spinal injury occurring after an accident. It can result in loss of feeling anywhere in the body, including but not limited to areas of abrasion or injury. Compression of the spinal nerves can cause symptoms elsewhere in the body. Seek treatment as soon as you notice these symptoms, as they can become permanent if untreated.

Spondylolistheses can begin when a vertebra shifts out of place due to a stress fracture of the bone. The symptoms are caused when the bone presses on the nerves which may cause pain, numbness or weakness in the lower torso and legs. This can lead to difficulty walking. In some people, there are no immediate symptoms but a continued progression of the disease that can cause symptoms years later.

Herniated disc. Discs serve as tiny shock absorbers for the spinal column. It is not uncommon that the spongy material that makes up the center of the disc becomes compressed and bulges outward, creating pressure on nerves. Some people experience no pain from this injury, while others complain of referred pain to the arm of leg.

Injuries do not always appear immediately after an accident. Seek medical attention right away and consider consulting a personal injury attorney to protect your rights after a crash.

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