Millions of people are injured in car accidents in the United States every year and neck injuries are the most common type of auto accident injury. In Florida, more than 249,000 people were injured in car wrecks in 2017 – this translates to a lot of neck injuries. In fact, the most common cause of neck injuries is auto accidents, followed by diving into shallow water, gunshot injuries and sports injuries. Our attorneys represent people who have suffered neck injuries as a result of Jacksonville area car accidents.Herniated or Bulging Discs
The neck consists of the top seven vertebrae (bones) of the spine. In between each vertebra is an intervertebral disc, which acts like a shock absorber between the bones. The presence of the disc also allows for pain free movement of the neck and head.
With normal and natural forces, the discs absorb impact and prevent injury. However, in an auto accident, a person’s head, which is relatively heavy, is often subjected to extreme acceleration or deceleration energy. The result is a very rapid flexion or extension of the neck. Due to the unnatural degree of force involved, the discs are not able to dissipate the energy quickly enough. The result is that the disc can be compacted by two vertebrae to the point that the disc becomes deformed.
Intervertebral discs are similar to a jelly donut, with a harder outside layer, called the annulus, with a softer jelly like center, called the nucleus. When the disc is compressed in an accident, the outside layer can rupture, allowing the softer jelly-like material on the inside to be pushed out. This is commonly referred to as a herniated disc. Usually, the injury does not heal itself, although sometimes the nucleus can retract to a degree.
When the disc is herniated, the misshapen disc or the protruding nucleus can put pressure on the spinal canal or on the nerves as they exit the spinal canal. This can cause pain, numbness or tingling that radiates into a person’s arm or hand and is caused radiculopathy. In extreme cases, it can cause permanent paralysis.
Treatment for a herniated or bulging disc can range from anti-inflammatory medications to surgical removal of the disc. Other treatments include: epidural steroid injections; narcotic pain medications; trigger point injections; anti-convulsant medications such as Neurontin; nerve blocks; and spinal cord stimulators.Cervical Radiculopathy
Nerves from the spinal cord exit the cervical spine and travel into the arms. The nerves supply sensation to parts of the skin of the shoulder and arm and give electrical signals to certain muscles to move part of the arm or hand. When a nerve is pressured by a herniated disc, a bulging disc, a piece of bone, or by muscle inflammation, a person may suffer symptoms radiating into one or both arms including: weakness; numbness; paralysis; pain; and tingling. These radiating symptoms are called cervical radiculopathy.
Cervical radiculopathy can cause permanent nerve damage if whatever is pressing on the nerve is not removed. Radiculopathy is the most common symptom that leads to cervical discectomy surgery.Cervical Vertebral Fractures
With severe trauma from a vehicle accident, cervical vertebrae can be fractured. The result can range from sharp pain to death, depending on whether the bone remains in its anatomical position.
Fractures at the upper part of the neck are most common if the victim suffers severe neck flexion while his or her head is rotated to either the left or right. Severe flexion is most common in a head-on car accident impact, resulting in extreme deceleration causing the head to snap forward.
Cervical fractures can be difficult to view on a standard x-ray and computed tomography (CT scanning) may be necessary. Depending on the severity of the fracture, treatment can range from immobilization with a cervical collar to emergency surgery.Whiplash Injuries
Our Jacksonville auto accident lawyers routinely encounter whiplash injuries to the neck. Whiplash is also called cervical acceleration-deceleration (CAD) syndrome. It is a result of the cervical spine being subjected to rapid motions and extreme sudden stresses. Nearly all whiplash injuries are associated with car accidents, although some intense activities like skiing and bungee jumping have also caused whiplash injuries.
The symptoms of whiplash can be complicated and lengthy. The most common symptom of whiplash is neck pain. It ranges from mild and niggling to a tingling sensation to excruciating. Other symptoms may include a reduced range of motion, neck stiffness, pain to the shoulder and upper back and a headache. People who sustain whiplash may feel ongoing weakness and tingling that radiates into the shoulder and down their arm.
Although whiplash is not the most serious neck injury associated with a Florida car accident and most people completely recover within three months, some car wreck victims suffer chronic ongoing pain and other symptoms associated with whiplash for years.Contact an Experienced Jacksonville Neck Injury Lawyer
Neck injuries from car accidents can be extremely serious and life-threatening. At the Lawrence Law Group, our experienced lawyers handle neck injury cases caused by auto accidents throughout the greater Jacksonville area including, Orange Park, Duval County, Clay County, Bradford County, Putnam County, Clay County, Union County, Nassau County, Baker County, Flagler County, Columbia County and St. Johns County. Call us at (904) 632-0077.