Neck injuries can be particularly painful, disabling and long lasting. Even what is known as a “low speed impact” in a rear end car accident, other type of car accident, motorcycle accident, bike accident or any number of other collisions can cause serious injury to the neck, or what is known as the cervical spine. The cervical spine is comprised of bony structures called vertebrae, as well as soft discs filled with a jelly like substance that cushion the vertebrae and maintain their position.
Frequently as a result of a car accident, the discs in the neck can be ruptured, or “herniated”, meaning that some of the jelly like substance has protruded through the surface of the disc and can press on a nerve, which will often cause pain, numbness, and tingling from the neck down the arm to the fingers in some cases. There are 7 discs in the neck from C1 through C8, and depending on the nerve associated with that disc, there can be pain and or numbness in a specific area of the shoulder, arm or hand. The basic rule is that the lower the disc on the neck that is affected, the further down the arm the symptoms of pain and numbness can be. Less serious injuries are a cervical strain or sprain, or muscle spasm, which causes the normal curvature the spine to reverse, resulting in pain.
Herniated discs are generally diagnosed by an MRI or CAT Scan. Generally, the treating provider, whether it is a chiropractor, physiatrist, neurologist, orthopedist, or neurosurgeon, will send the patient for an MRI several weeks after the accident if the symptoms of pain and loss of range of motion have not subsided. If there are positive findings such as either a bulging or herniated disc, or sciatica, which is an impingement of a lumbar (lower back) nerve, the provider will recommend various treatments, including: Massage; chiropractic adjustments; electrical stimulation; physical therapy; epidural steroid injections; acupuncture or traction.
In more severe neck injury cases, such as herniation of multiple discs, or a significant exacerbation of a previous spinal injury, surgery is sometimes recommended. Operative procedures for serious cervical injuries include a laminectomy, in which cervical disc fragments and spurs are removed with the hope that the operation will lessen the pressure on the cervical nerves or spinal canal; a discectomy, in which a portion of the disc that has protruded through and is impinging (pressing) on the nearest nerve is removed with the belief that this will reduce or eliminate pain and numbness; or in the most serious cases, spinal fusion, whereby often two or more levels of vertebrae are fused together utilizing hardware such as rods, plates and screws. This procedure is frequently referred to as “ORIF” or open reduction, internal fixation.
Due to the complexities and variety of cervical spine injuries, it is vital that you retain attorneys with the knowledge, experience, background and dedication to ensure that you will be compensated for all of your injuries and damages, including your physical and emotional injuries, loss of earnings and earnings potential, medical and hospital expenses (past and future) and loss of enjoyment of life. At the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel, since 1986, we have represented clients in state and federal Courts in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange and Dutchess Counties. For a free consultation to discuss your case in detail and how our firm can provide legal assistance, contact us anytime at (914) 428-7386 or online.