Car accidents often only last a few seconds, but the results can be devastating, taking weeks or months for victims to fully recover from. Neck and back injuries, in particular, are extremely common after a car crash, especially head-on collisions and rear-end collisions. Drivers are often jerked forward due to the car's forward momentum while their bodies are pulled backward and restrained by seatbelts.
Here's what you should know about neck and back pain if you've been in a car accident.
Neck and Back Pain Can Be Indicative of Many Different Injuries
While neck and/or back pain may be common after a car crash, this type of pain can be a symptom for a variety of different injuries.
Whiplash is caused by the sudden, jerking movement of the head and shoulders back and forth during an accident, which stretches soft tissues, including muscles and ligaments, in the neck.
In addition to neck and back pain, people suffering from whiplash may experience these symptoms:
- Loss of range of motion in the neck,
- Blurred vision,
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears,
- Numbness or tenderness in the shoulders and arms, and
- Difficulty sleeping and fatigue.
These symptoms may appear a day or later after the car crash occurred. Although whiplash injuries can persist for weeks or months, they are treatable with rest and proper medical care.
Pain due to injury to your spinal discs is known as discogenic pain.
If you experience this sort of pain in your back, this could be due to a back strain or sprain. These injuries are caused by damage to soft tissues including muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Pain your lower back after a car accident can be due to a lumbar strain or sprain. In addition to pain, people suffering from lumbar injuries may also experience:
- Restricted range of motion, and
- Muscle spasms
Injuries to the lower back after a car crash can be treated with predication and physical therapy.
Pinched Nerves and Slipped Discs
Another common injury that can cause discogenic pain is a pinched nerve or slipped disc. This occurs when a spinal disc moves out of place, compressing the nerve and causing pain. In addition to pain, people suffering from pinched nerves or slipped discs may experience these symptoms:
- Numbness, tingling, or feelings of “pins and needles,”
- Muscle weakness, and
- Decreased sensation in the affected area.
This type of injury can be treated through rest, muscle relaxants, stretching, and other physical therapy.
Seek Medical Treatment as Soon as Possible
After a car accident, it is extremely important to seek medical attention as quickly as possible for two reasons.
First, you may have a serious injury that you aren't aware of, due to the adrenaline and endorphins from the crash flooding your body and blocking pain. Often, neck and back injuries, as well as damage to soft tissues may be delayed for several hours, or even days after the car crash.
Meeting and speaking with a doctor after a car accident can help diagnose serious injuries quickly, ensuring that you get the best treatment possible. Do not ignore any symptoms – even minor things, such as a headache or difficulty sleeping, can be indicative of a more serious neck or back injury.
Second, having an official doctor's record detailing your symptoms after the crash, as well as their notes regarding ongoing treatment, will help maximize your compensation from the other driver. The longer you wait to get treatment, the easier it is for the insurance company to argue that documented injuries were not caused by the crash.
You Can Receive Compensation for Neck and Back Pain in California
If you are suffering from neck and back pain after being in a car accident in California, you may be eligible to receive compensation.
Under state law, you may be able to receive compensation for economic damage, including doctor's bills, medication costs, and payments for physical therapy, you incurred as a result of the car accident. Economic damages can also include lost wages, for time spent away from work while you were recovering from your neck or back injury.
You may also be eligible to receive compensation for noneconomic damages, including pain and suffering. While money cannot always adequately compensate for sleepless nights, extreme injuries, or ongoing pain, it can go a long way towards letting you move on with your life after recovering from a car accident.
Working with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
At the Law Offices of Freeman & Freeman, we have helped hundreds of people over the past 50 years get the compensation they deserve for neck and back injuries. If you were injured in a car accident and want to know what your legal options are, please contact us at (866) 361-7546 to set up an initial consultation.