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Severe Injuries to the Spine Can Initially Seem Like Whiplash

Jan 27, 2015 - Spine Injury by

Many people see an auto accident as a pain-in-the-neck for many reasons, and whiplash is definitely one of those reasons. Even a relatively minor bump from behind can send one’s head suddenly backward and forward, placing severe strain on the individual’s delicate neck. Even in low-impact collisions involving no vehicle damage, statistics indicate that between 35 and 58 percent of car occupants are at risk for whiplash injury.

Since whiplash is commonly associated with auto accidents, many individuals who walk away with neck pain assume the discomfort will go away with a little rest and over-the-counter pain medication. This decision can be a life-changing error — the pain may be an early warning of severe spinal cord injury (SCI), which can lead to long-term problems or even permanent disability if not diagnosed and treated quickly.

Pain in the Neck Requires a Trip to the Doctor

When auto accident whiplash injury victims first consult with an attorney, the first question they will likely hear is, “Have you seen a doctor?” Naturally, medical evidence is essential for any accidental injury case. However, the primary concern pertains to the victim’s long-term health.

As explained by Medscape, any trauma that leads to pain and other symptoms in the head and neck may be associated with whiplash. This type of injury comes from a variety of sources, such as the following:

  • Motor vehicle accidents (36 to 48 percent)
  • Falls (17 to 21 percent)
  • Violence (5 to 29 percent)
  • Recreational activities (7 to 16 percent)

Many people cannot simply walk away from an accident that damages the spine, so they receive the medical attention they need immediately. However, the damage can also be progressive in nature. Without an immediate diagnosis and proper isolation or other treatment, the damage can get worse over time. A person who initially walks off with whiplash symptoms can later experience a much more debilitating condition.

Doctors May Conduct a Number of Tests to Determine the Extent of These Injuries

When someone goes to a doctor with complaints of a headache, sore neck, dizziness or tingling going down the arms, doctors typically begin with a physical exam. While physicians may send patients away wearing cervical collars to immobilize the injured area, they often take x-rays. Still, since x-rays do not reveal soft tissue damage, an MRI may be the next step.

When to Seek a Second Opinion

It is natural for anyone with injuries to seek guidance from the doctors who have treated their family members for years. Unfortunately, these doctors do not typically have access to the best equipment to diagnose and treat orthopedic injuries. To make sure their patients receive the best care, many family doctors refer patients to specialists.

Even without referral from a family physician, victims of head or neck injury should see a medical specialist if there is any concern that they are receiving the best possible diagnosis and treatment. The spinal cord injury attorneys at our Charlotte, NC firm can often help provide referrals to respected physicians. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, call us at 844-452-3688, or use our convenient online contact form.