A neck injury is one of the most serious and traumatic injuries it’s possible to suffer. It can result in life-changing or long-term damage.
Neck injuries are different to the pain or discomfort you might experience as a result of tension – such as from sitting in a certain position for too long. Acute neck injuries can cause real damage to the spine and surrounding tissue.
If you’ve hurt your neck after being involved in a personal injury, you could end up suffering serious consequences.
Types of neck injury
The neck is made up of a number of different bones, muscles and ligaments. The cervical spine is located at the back of your neck and is made up of seven vertebrae, which are separated by discs.
Whiplash is likely the most widely known type of neck injury. It mainly affects the soft tissue in the neck and results in symptoms including neck pain and stiffness, headaches and muscle spasms.
You might also find yourself suffering from nerve damage or slipped or damaged discs – often due to heavy lifting, pressure on the neck or being struck by a falling object. But the most severe form of neck injury can be a broken or dislocated neck. This can cause your vertebrae to crack or fracture, which can then result in paralysis or even death.
Causes of neck injury
Among the most common causes of neck injuries are car accidents. When you are involved in a car crash, you can find your body remains stationary because of your seatbelt, while your head snaps forward with the momentum, causing your neck to be damaged.
Also responsible for a number of neck injuries are falls, usually from a height. Falling objects can also cause significant injuries.
Manual handling carried out incorrectly can result in back pain, as well as neck injuries, while engaging in certain sports can also pose a risk of injury to the neck. Contact sports such as rugby and boxing and activities like horse riding can be particularly dangerous when it comes to neck injuries.
The impact of a neck injury
Among the most serious and lasting impacts of a neck injury is paralysis. Suddenly being unable to control your own body when you previously could is a hugely traumatic experience for anyone.
The inability to control your bladder or bowel can also end up being a lifelong consequence of a neck injury. This can have a huge impact on your quality of life and can take a significant mental and emotional toll.
The link between neck pain and anxiety and depression has been pointed out by a number of studies, including by Moroccan researchers published in the Pan African Medical Journal and US scientists published in Pain Medicine.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has also said that adjusting to a spinal cord injury is a lifelong process. Losing independence, dealing with changing emotional reactions and adapting to activities like work and family life can be challenging to victims of neck injuries.
It’s for that reason that support is generally advised in cases of severe neck and spinal injury. Specialist clinicians will be able to offer advice and guidance on how to adapt to life after suffering from a neck injury.
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