If you’re experiencing neck pain or headaches after a truck accident, you’re not alone. Neck and spine injuries are some of the most common issues that accident victims report after a crash. However, many people don’t realize that even a “minor” truck wreck can cause serious damage; and it sometimes takes time for neck pain to develop.
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we’ve been fighting for truck wreck victims and their loved ones for years. Many people in Alabama, Mississippi, and the Gulf Coast consider us to the region’s “Big Truck Lawyers,” and we’re proud of that reputation. In this article, our experienced team explains how truck accidents can damage your neck, and what you should do if you notice neck pain, headaches, or other problems after a wreck.
How Do Truck Accidents Cause Neck Injuries?
If you’ve ever been in a serious car or truck accident, you probably remember feeling like a rag doll during the collision, with your body getting pushed and pulled in many directions. You were experiencing forces called acceleration and deceleration. While we don’t need to give you an in-depth physics lesson right now, let’s talk about how these forces affect your neck during a crash.
Suppose you’re rear-ended by a big truck at a stoplight. First, you’ll feel your body getting pushed forward; this is acceleration. Acceleration occurs because the collision transferred the 18-wheeler’s energy to your vehicle, pushing it forward. When you or your vehicle make contact with something, like a seatbelt, another car, or a highway guardrail, you’re pushed in the opposite direction by forces of deceleration. If your vehicle spins, you’ll feel a force called torque.
All of these back-and-forth forces can damage the delicate tissues of your neck. Your neck is made of a series of bones, nerves, muscles, soft tissues, and your spinal cord. Doctors sometimes refer to your neck’s bones, muscles, and other structures as the cervical spine.
Your spinal cord runs from your brain through a series of bones, called vertebrae. Muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues support your spinal column, helping you move and stabilizing your back. Nerves branch off the cord, running to your other body parts. A single injury, even a seemingly minor one, can cause swelling and damage that causes pain and limits your ability to do the things you love.
Common Neck Injuries After a Crash
Neck problems after a collision are all too common. The neck is a delicate system of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. When one part is damaged, the rest can be negatively affected as well. Here are some common injuries you may be experiencing.
Whiplash is one of the most common (and misunderstood) neck injuries. It occurs when a crash causes your head to violently snap back and forth (typically during a rear-end crash). These forces can cause swelling, irritation, and soft tissue damage, which we call “whiplash.” Symptoms of a whiplash injury include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Pain and tenderness in your shoulders and arms
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Dizzy spells
- Memory and concentration problems
- Depression and anxiety
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
Some of these symptoms may not show up for a day or more, so pay attention to how you’re feeling after a crash. As soon as you start to notice symptoms, call your doctor. Headache can also be a sign of a concussion, a milder form of traumatic brain injury.
Herniated Disc or Bulging Disc
Between every vertebra in the neck is a disc, a shock absorber that helps you move smoothly and comfortably. A herniated disc, sometimes called a slipped or bulging disc, happens when the disc’s tough exterior tears or stretches. Its jelly-like interior can then press on your spinal cord or nerves. A herniated disc can cause pain, tingling, and muscle weakness in the neck, shoulders, or arms.
If you experience severe neck or back pain, numbness or tingling in your shoulder or arm, or muscle weakness, contact your doctor immediately. Herniated discs often need surgery and other intensive medical care.
Nerves branch of your spinal cord, sending messages to and from your brain. A truck accident can damage these nerves, causing pain and weakness in your neck and other body parts. For example, the nerves in your neck run into your shoulders, arms, hands, and head.
Nerve damage is painful and dangerous and requires immediate medical attention. If you have nerve damage after a crash, you may feel:
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
- Numbness or tingling
- Shooting and burning pain
- Sensitive skin
If you think you have nerve damage after a crash, seek medical attention immediately.
Also called a cervical fracture, a neck fracture happens when one of the bones in the neck breaks, cracks, or fractures. Signs you might be experiencing a fracture include neck pain, bruising, swelling, and tenderness. Severe fractures can damage the spinal cord, leading to paralysis.
Spinal Cord Damage
The most serious of neck injuries, spinal cord damage can lead to quadriplegia, or paralysis in all four limbs. People with spinal cord damage need immediate medical care and intense rehabilitation. While many people with spinal cord injuries live long and happy lives, they typically require a lifetime of medical care and support.
What to Do if Your Neck Hurts After a Crash
Our truck accident lawyers always recommend that victims go to the doctor immediately after a motor vehicle accident. After an auto accident, a diagnosis is important for a couple reasons. First, once your doctors know what’s going on in your neck, they can start to treat your issues. Second, insurance companies don’t pay out compensation unless you have strong medical evidence supporting your claim.
Even if you think it’s “not that bad,” the doctor may be able to identify injuries that you would have otherwise missed. They can also tell you the best way to care for your neck injury.
Initially, your doctor may suggest simple ways to treat neck pain at home, including:
- Applying heat and ice interchangeably
- Taking a hot shower to relax strained muscles
- Gently stretching your neck and massaging tender areas
- Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
- Rest combine with at-home exercises
However, if your pain persists or worsens, it’s in your best interest to follow up with your doctors. This is especially true if you start noticing pain that shoots into your arms or shoulder, or sudden numbness or weakness.
If you have a serious neck injury, you’ll need more than over-the-counter pain medication and rest. Your doctor will probably schedule diagnostic tests, like an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan, to look for herniated discs, fractures, and other injuries. They may also request nerve studies, like an EMG or NCT, that identify problems in your neck and arm nerves.
Based on their findings, your doctors will suggest therapies that may help with your neck pain and headaches. They may include:
- Physical therapy that can strengthen your neck and improve your range of motion
- Surgery, like a fusion or laminectomy
- Chronic pain management, including medication and injections
- Use of a cervical collar
Your doctors may also suggest work and activity restrictions that help reduce your chances of reinjuring yourself on the job or at home.
You Shouldn’t Have to Pay for Your Injuries After a Truck Crash
If you’re suffering from neck pain after a crash with a semi-truck that wasn’t your fault, you shouldn’t have to pay for your medical bills or lose out on income. With help from an experienced truck accident lawyer, you may be able to get financial compensation that covers your medical care, missed work, property damage, and the stress the accident caused. If you’re hurt after a crash that wasn’t your fault, contact our offices today.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Fighting for Truck Crash Victims in Mississippi and Alabama
We’re proud to fight for innocent victims who’re suffering because of someone else’s mistake. If you’ve been hurt in a truck crash that wasn’t your fault, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We can meet with you over a video call, phone call, or another remote way, so you don’t even have to leave the house to get the legal help you need.
We look forward to hearing from you!
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.