Vehicle manufacturers design many safety features such as seat belts, head rests and air bags to protect your head and chest from absorbing the impact that typically occurs in a crash. Unfortunately, the force of that impact can then shift to your spine.
Here are four common spine-related injuries that often occur even in a minor collision:
- Spinal fracture: While a seat belt keeps the lower body relatively still in a collision, the upper body can experience considerable movement, which creates the possibility of a compression fracture in your spine.
- Herniated disc: During a vehicle accident, the jolt of impact can cause one or more of the discs between the vertebrae to shift out of place, affecting nearby structures or nerves. As a result, you will likely feel numbness or radiating pain.
- Spondylolisthesis: A stress fracture in the bone can cause a vertebra to shift. As with a herniated disc, the displacement can compress nerves or the spinal canal. The result may be weakness, numbness and trouble walking.
- Whiplash: The most common result of a car accident, whiplash results from impact that causes the head to snap back and then forward violently. It usually affects the cervical portion of the neck, often causing stiffness, headaches, dizziness or blurred vision.
Treatment and recovery
It is important to seek medical attention after any vehicle collision, from a rear-ender to a crash that destroys your car. The best treatment for some spinal injuries is simply rest and conservative care. Physicians often recommend physical therapy for more complex injuries and surgery to repair the most serious spinal damage. Issues resulting from spinal trauma can also appear in the years ahead, which may cause you to worry about both your well-being and the financial strain of maintaining it. If you suffer a spine injury as the victim of a car crash, explore your legal options.