Whiplash and Neck Injury from a Car Accident

Doug Goyen is a personal injury lawyer in Dallas, Texas that has handled car accident injury cases since 1997. Attorney Goyen is dedicated to getting you the treatment you need for your injury and the compensation you deserve. Whiplash and neck injuries are the most common type of injury suffered in car accident injury cases. Attorney Goyen has handled thousands of car accidents with whiplash and neck injuries and has collected millions for his clients for these types of injuries. If you were injured in a car accident, truck accident, or any other personal injury case call 972-599-4100. We provide free case reviews. You are charged no fee unless you win.

Neck Injuries from Car Accidents 

The neck is composed of vertebrae, spinal cord and nerves, discs, windpipe, esophagus, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels. Sudden trauma from an auto accident can cause injuries to any of these parts of the neck. 

Common causes of neck injuries

The most common causes of acute (sudden) neck injuries are auto accidents, falls, sports, penetrating injuries such as a gunshot, external pressure from assaults such as direct blows or strangulation, and diving into shallow water. 

Common symptoms of neck injuries

Common symptoms of a neck injury are difficulty turning the neck or head, decreased range of motion, muscle spasms in the neck and shoulders, neck pain, stiffness in the neck, weakness in the legs, arms hands or fingers, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches, bleeding from neck area, neck bruising, pain with movement, pain and tingling that spreads to the shoulders and arms, sleep disturbance, a sore throat.
Serious symptoms of neck injuries

Serious symptoms indicating a possible emergency are a change in consciousness or alertness or unresponsive, clammy and pale skin, loss of bladder or bowel control, paralysis of any sort, uncontrolled bleeding, breathing problems such as shortness of breath, labored breathing, wheezing and choking, severe headache, deformity or swelling in neck or head. 

Common types of neck injuries
*Whiplash - Whiplash is a neck injury caused by forceful, rapid, back and forth movement of the neck. It is most commonly caused in rear end automobile accidents. It can also be caused by sports injuries, assault, falls, and other kinds of trauma. Whiplash injuries typically include sprains and strains. A person who suffers a whiplash injury may also have other types of neck injuries. 

*Strains and Sprains - Common types of neck injuries include neck sprains and neck strains - vertebrae in the neck consist of seven spinal column bones connected by ligaments. In a sprain the ligaments are torn or stretched by a sudden strong head movement. In a strain the muscles are pulled and/or torn.

*Herniated disc - The spine has discs that act as a cushion between each vertebrae. The exterior of the disc is tough and the interior of these discs have a jellylike interior. A tear in the disc wall can allow some of the interior of the disc to protrude or escape. This can cause increased pressure on the nerves running through the spine and cause pain and numbness including radiating pain to the extremities such as the arms, legs, hands or feet. 

*Pinched nerve - is when pressure is placed on a nerve due to pressure from muscles, tendons, surrounding tissue, or bones. 

*Fractured cervical spine - Fractures occurring in the cervical spine are most commonly caused in auto accidents, then followed by diving, sports, and firearms. They include fracturs to the upper (occiput-C2) and lower cervical spine (C3-C7). The main complications of cervical fractures are nerve and spinal cord injury, malunion of the fracture, and infections from the surgery. Cervical spine fractures are serious and devestating if not treated properly. 

Common nonsurgical neck injury treatment

-First aid
-Physical therapy
-Chiropractic care
-Osteopathic care

Common surgical neck injury treatment

*Injections - Injections are commonly noted as a minimally invasive procedure. They are often used to avoid more invasive types of surgery. Even though spinal injections are not what is commonly thought of as a surgical procedure, most spinal injections are done at a surgical center or a hospital. Injections may be minimally invasive, but they are still invasive and is why I place them in the surgical category. 

Types of injections for neck injuries - The following types of procedures are injections commonly used to treat neck injury pain from injuries that do not resolve from non-surgical care such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, and other non-surgical care: 

*Epidural steroid injections - The epidural is the area surrounding the dura. The dura is the sac surrounding the nerve roots and contains cerebrospinal fluid, the spinal cord and nerves. Injections into this part of the spine delivers the medication to coat the nerves in this area. Conditions that indicate the possibility of epidural steroid injections include nerve pain, compressed nerves causing pain in the neck or upper back, herniated discs, spondylosis (age related wear and tear), radiculopathy (any condition or injury causing damage to the nerves), and spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the open space in the spine resulting in spinal cord and nerve pressure that causes pain and numbness - can be caused by herniated discs and car accident trauma to the neck which causes swelling). 

*Nerve root block injections - - a selective nerve root block injection is known as (SNRB). It is an injection to treat an inflamed spinal nerve. It can also help diagnose as well. Usually an anesthetic or anesthetic with a steroid is injected near the spine nerve where it exits the bony opening between the vertebrae. The medication numbs and reduces inflammation in the nerve. This type of injection is usually guided by fluoroscopy or ultrasound guidance. It has a reported 57% success rate up to 6 months for patients. The effect of the injections can be delayed for days or even weeks, so sometimes there is no immediate relief even for those who eventually obtain relief from the injections. These injections are used for inflamed nerve roots caused by herniations, spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the open space in the spine resulting in spinal cord and nerve pressure that causes pain and numbness - can be caused by herniated discs and car accident trauma to the neck which causes swelling), and radiculopathy (any condition or injury causing damage to the nerves). 

*Facet joint injections and medial branch blocks - These injections are used to both treat the pain and to diagnose. 

Facet joint injections - A facet joint is surrounded by a joint capsule made of synovial membrane tissue that contains an innervation of nerves. When this joint is inflamed it causes pain. Injections into this joint include the injection of anesthetics and steroids. The injection reduces inflammation which reduces pain. The medication makes pain receptors less sensitive also reducing pain. 

Medial branch blocks - Medial branch nerves come out of the spinal nerves' dorsal rami from C2 and below. A steroid injected near the medial branch nerve may suppress the pain signal from the nerve. Fluoroscopy or ultrasound guidance is used to guide the needle accurately, and contrast dye may be used to enhance visualization. 

Studies show the success rate of facet joint injections and medial branch blocks to last 1-4 weeks in 92% of patients. Symptoms may or may not return.    

*Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) - treats conditions such as chronic neck and back pain. RFA heats part of the nerve transmitting the pain with a radiofrequency needle to create a heat lesion. The lesion stops the nerve from sending the pain signal to the brain. This treatment usually is used to stop pain for longer time periods, longer than 6 months to 2 years. It can improve range of motion helping physical therapy, can help reduce the need for medications, and can avoid the need for more invasive surgeries. This is usually considered for neck and back pain, cervicogenic headaches, occipital neuralgia - which is a chronic headache caused by a pinched nerve at the C2 or C3 level, or for sacroiliac joint or posterior pelvic pain. Different studies show the success rate to be anywhere from 45% to 86%. Studies show that repeated RFA treatment provides relief in 85% of patients. 

*Cervical spinal fusion - Is a major surgery that is used where there is instability in neck or when motion of neck causes pain. Cervical spinal fusion is a surgery joining or fusing the bones in the neck (the vertebrae) together. The fusion is done by either grafting bone from somewhere in your body or from a bone bank to create the fusion.  

*Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)- Is a major surgery commonly used for a pinched nerve or spinal cord compression. It removes a damaged disc to relieve spinal cord or nerve root pressure to ease the pain, weakness, numbness and tingling. The disc is removed relieving spinal cord and nerve root pressure. The surgery relieves pain, numbness, tingling, and pain. It is a type of decompression as it relieves pressure. When the disc is removed the vertebrae are fused with a bone graft or implant where the disc was to provide stability to the area. This surgery is used for herniated discs, disc disease, and with bone spurs to relieve symptoms. 

*Anterior corpectomy and fusion - Is a major surgery used to treat compression of the spinal cord. This procedure removes both vertebrae and discs in the cervical spine. This procedure is used with injuries caused herniated discs and with degenerative changes to the spine. It can also be used with other conditions where the spine has been damaged due to trauma, tumors or deformation. These conditions narrow the spinal canal and put pressure on the spinal cord. The surgery is done after physical therapy, injections and pain medication has failed to alleviate the problems. Recovery takes 6 to 8 weeks. Physical therapy is typically involved during recovery.  

*Laminectomy - Is a major surgery used to relieve pressure on spinal cord and nerves. The lamina is removed in order to make space in order to make your spinal canal larger. The lamina is part of the vertebra covering the spinal canal. A laminectomy is also known as decompression as it relieves pressued on the spinal cord and nerves. Laminectomy is used when physical therapy, injections, and medications have failed to relieve the symptoms. Some herniated disc situations require a laminectomy to complete the procedure - in order to get to the disc. Physical therapy is typically involved after the surgery in order to improve the patient's strength and flexibility.  

*Laminoplasty - Is a major surgery used to relieve pressure on spinal cord and nerves. Part of the bone called the lamina is removed from the spinal canal. The lamina is at the top or roof of the canal. This surgery is used when disc herniations, fractures, and degenerative changes can cause pressure on the spinal canal and more conservative treatment has failed to alleviate the symptoms. Hinges, plates and bone struts are used to relieve the pressure on the spinal canal, so is a type of decompression. 

*Artificial disk replacement (ADR) - Is a major surgery commonly used to for pain caused by a pinched nerve.  Is where the disc is replaced due to damage done to the disc from herniation or degenerative changes that are causing pain, numbness and tingling, radiating pain, and weakness. If the symptoms are just limited to the neck (no radiating symptoms) this surgery is not usually recommended. The damaged disc is cleared and an artificial disc is inserted to relieve pressure on the spinal canal. 

*Posterior cervical laminoforaminotomy - Is a surgery commonly used for pain from a pinched nerve. This surgery is considered a minimally invasive surgery. The lamina is shaved using very small instruments and then any disc fragments or bone spurs are removed. It is used to relieve pressure on nerve roots and the spinal cord in the neck. Cervical disc herniations can cause the need for this type of surgery. Pressure on the spinal canal cause radiating symptoms into the arms, hands, and shoulders. It is used when physical therapy and medication have failed to alleviate the symptoms. Recovery time is 2 to 4 weeks. 

Neck fracture treatment

Treatment of neck fractures may include spinal immobilization such as halo traction, a stiff neck collar and braces, and surgical fusing with rods, plates, and screws.

Complications of neck injuries in the long term

Complications of neck injuries in the long term include chronic pain, weakness in neck, stiffness in neck, shoulder or arm, chronic fatigue, death, paralysis, decreased range of motion in neck, permanent disability. 

Neck injury prevention
Prevention of neck injuries includes maintaining a healthy weight,  regular exercise, strength training for back and core, a healthy diet, ergonomic chairs and pillows, posture awareness while standing and sitting, and using caution when lifting, twisting and turning. 

The Law Office of Doug Goyen has dedicated decades of his practice helping people who have suffered neck injuries from car accident injuries. Attorney Goyen is a personal injury lawyer in Dallas, Texas licensed through the State Bar of Texas since 1997. Attorney Goyen has handled personal injury cases of all kinds, including auto accidents that cause neck injuries, during that time. The following types of injuries are common in personal injury trauma cases and Attorney Goyen represents clients with these types of injuries on an ongoing basis. If you need an attorney for a neck injury caused by an automobile accident or accident of any sort caused by negligence contact our office. Our phone number is (972) 599 4100. The following is provided for informational purposes.