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May 20, 2024 | Car accident

The Dangers of Lingering Neck and Back Pain After a Car Accident

Car accidents are, unfortunately, a danger that it does not appear we will be escaping any time soon. In fact, car accidents like rear-end collisions and hit-and-runs are some of the most common culprits for neck and back injuries in the United States. 

Lingering back and neck pain after a car accident is a serious issue that shouldn't be ignored. Because the pain feels minor, it can be easy to pay it little attention - to think of it as routine stiffness or soreness following an accident. While it may seem minor at first, it can indicate a more serious underlying injury that could worsen over time. If left untreated, pain could become chronic and lead to other, more severe, health problems.

Why Does Neck and Back Pain Occur After a Car Accident?

Neck and back pain are very common after a car accident due to the forceful stresses placed on your spine. Car accidents involve sudden stops, jolts and sometimes unusual twisting movements that can hyperflex or hyperextend the back and neck. These can cause strains and tears in the muscles, ligaments and tendons that support your spine. The neck and spinal muscles ordinarily function in a support role, providing posture and balance.  During a car accident, the sudden and forceful movements can overwhelm these muscles, leading to strains, tears, sprains and worse.

Common Causes of Neck and Back Pain After an Accident 

Sudden stops can cause a forceful back-and-forth “whip-like” motion of the head and neck known as whiplash, which can cause stiffness, pain and headaches. Whiplash is the most common cause of back and neck pain following a car accident. It can be easy to discount stiffness and headaches following an auto accident, but this should never be ignored. Left untreated, whiplash can lead to many long-term health problems.

The motions of a car accident can also cause injuries to the vertebrae and the discs that cushion between the vertebrae. Vertebra can become misaligned or fractured in an accident or discs can become herniated, putting pressure on nerves in the spine and causing pain and numbness. Normal movements can keep these minor injuries from healing and if left untreated, can cause them to become more severe. 

The Dangers of Ignoring Neck and Back Pain

Back and neck injuries are dangerous if left untreated for two main reasons:

  • The original injury must be treated completely and correctly to heal. People with untreated whiplash suffer not only from the symptoms of whiplash (pain, stiffness, headaches) for an extended amount of time, but they also suffer from reduced range of motion in the neck, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing of the ears), sleep difficulties and cognitive issues that make memory and concentration difficult. Untreated vertebral or disc injuries can cause painful bone or disc degeneration and possibly permanent nerve damage. 
  • Unhealed injuries cause chronic pain, which leads to numerous other health problems. Chronic pain can affect your mental health as well as your physical health. It is often associated with anxiety, depression and sleep problems. Chronic pain can lead to reduced mobility, leading to weight gain, increase in blood pressure, weakened immune system and digestive problems. Chronic pain can make you feel like a different person and make you willing to try anything to make the pain go away. It is known to be a contributing factor for addictions to prescription drugs and other illegal substances.

What to Do After a Car Accident with Neck and Back Pain

First, you should seek medical attention immediately if you are experiencing neck or back pain. This is important in treating any injuries that you may have as well as catching any injuries that could go unnoticed at first but worsen over time without proper care. Even if you are only experiencing minor pain that you wouldn’t ordinarily seek treatment for, you should still have it checked out. That minor pain could turn out to be something much more significant once the adrenaline from the accident wears off. Additionally, it will be important to document any injuries for future insurance claims and/or lawsuits. 

The next step you should take following an auto accident is to contact an attorney with experience in auto accidents with back and neck injuries. Back and neck injuries such as whiplash are often minimized and labeled as a sprain or strain by insurance adjusters in an attempt to save money for the companies that they work for. Having an experienced attorney on your side will ensure that you aren’t taken advantage of. An attorney will fight to prove your injury and to either get you a fair settlement from the insurance company or help you to file a lawsuit to get you the compensation that you deserve.

The Importance of a Medical Second Opinion

While you trust your initial doctor's diagnosis, a second opinion can offer valuable peace of mind and a more comprehensive picture of your situation. If you feel uncomfortable or are not confident in the initial diagnosis, a second opinion is always a good idea. Here's why considering a second opinion might be beneficial:

  • Confirmation and Confidence: Sometimes, a second opinion simply confirms the initial diagnosis, but with more detailed explanations. This can boost your confidence in the treatment plan and provide a sense of clarity.
  • Gaining a Fresh Perspective: A new doctor may have a different approach to your pain, potentially revealing additional factors contributing to it or uncovering a missed diagnosis.
  • Exploring Treatment Options: Different doctors may recommend various treatment plans, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your needs and preferences.
  • Strengthening Your Case: If you're pursuing compensation for your injuries, having two doctors confirm the severity and cause of your back and neck pain can strengthen your case.

How Can Ajlouny Injury Law Help? 

Ajlouny Injury Law specializes in personal injury cases, and car accidents are a common cause of back and neck injuries. We have experience navigating the complexities of insurance claims and lawsuits to obtain compensation for your medical expenses, including doctor visits, physical therapy, medications, and any future medical needs arising from the accident.

Contact us today for your free consultation!

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