Neck injuries are one of the most common types of personal injuries, particularly after a car accident or slip and fall. However, it is not always easy to tell when you have suffered a neck injury, and many victims fail to seek prompt treatment as a result. How can you tell if you have a neck injury, and what should you do if you suspect you may have sustained trauma to your neck?
Three Important Signs of a Neck Injury
Victims of a car accident or other type of personal injury trauma may not immediately be aware that they have a neck injury. Often, neck damage mimics other types of injuries, since pain may appear in different parts of the body. This can confuse the victim, who believes he or she has a back, arm or leg issue that will ultimately resolve itself. By the time the victim has figured out that the pain or weakness is not going away, some time may have passed and treatment may be much more difficult.
There are several important signs of a neck injury that should never be ignored, even if they do not seem to be related to the neck itself. The three most important include:
- Radiating pain. Any pain that radiates downward, through the chest, shoulders, arms or legs, may indeed have its origin in the neck. The nervous system, including the part of it that recognizes pain, originates in the brain and moves through the neck through the rest of the body, so pain that seems to move could well be starting in the neck but feel as if it is occurring in other areas.
- Decreased sensation. Any loss of sensation, particularly in hands or feet, is a sign that should not be ignored. Neck injuries can cause pinched nerves or blood vessels that can affect circulation or sensation in other areas of the body.
- Difficulty breathing. While we associate breathing with the lungs, the signal to breathe originates in the brain. Neck injuries can have severe and life-threatening impacts on this ability, so any difficulty breathing should cause the victim to seek immediate medical attention.
There are quite a few other symptoms of a neck injury that may be more obvious, such as localized neck pain and stiffness; swelling and bruising; tenderness to the touch; and muscle weakness or paralysis of the arms and legs.
Any injury to the neck should be treated as serious, even if the victim is not experiencing particularly bad pain or difficulty moving. Neck injuries can worsen quickly, sometimes becoming much worse days after the trauma occurs. In order to correctly evaluate the seriousness of a neck injury, it is very important for the victim to see immediate medical treatment any time an accident occurs that could involve trauma to the neck, and to follow up as necessary with medical professionals. Prompt medical attention and vigilant future care give a neck injury victim the best chance of avoiding long-term pain and disability.
If you have suffered a neck injury as the result of a car crash, slip and fall, or other types of personal injury accident, contact Barber & Associates. Our years of experience in handling neck injury cases will help ensure that you receive fair, prompt treatment for your neck trauma.