Lexington, KY Neck/Spine/Back Injury Lawyer
Going about your business in Kentucky you may not think twice about getting into an accident, but they happen. Serious injuries can occur due to a vehicle accident or a fall. Such injuries can include those to the neck, back and spine. If severe enough, they could cause lifelong disabilities that could end or seriously impair your ability to work and support yourself and your family. Here are some of the neck, spine and back injuries that may result from accidents.
Neck (Cervical Spine)
Any part of your neck (muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, or nerves) could be injured in an accident, causing pain and limited motion. Cervical Sprain/Strain is the correct term for what many people know as whiplash. Whiplash is a very real and possibly very serious injury that can occur if your head violently whips forward and backward in an auto accident. Seatbelts cannot prevent this type of injury.
- It’s a soft tissue injury (not bone injury) to the neck that can include the intervertebral joints, discs and ligaments, cervical muscles and nerve roots.
- Neck pain may happen immediately after the injury or even several days later. Whiplash also could include: neck stiffness, headaches, dizziness, sensations of burning or prickling, and shoulder or back pain. Some people may also experience memory loss, loss of concentration, nervousness, irritability, sleep problems, fatigue or depression.
- Treatment may include pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, muscle relaxants and a cervical collar (normally used for two to three weeks). Range-of-motion exercises, physical therapy and cervical traction may be used. Heat may relieve muscle tension.
- Depending on the severity of the accident, the neck and head pain may clear up after a few days or a few weeks. Most people recover within three months after the accident, but some may continue to have residual neck pain and headaches.
Cervical radiculopathy, or a “pinched nerve,” can happen when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated where it branches away from the spinal cord. It may be caused by a herniated disc due to an accident.
- This may cause pain radiating into the shoulder, muscle weakness and numbness that travels down the arm to the hand.
- Cervical radiculopathy often responds well to medication and physical therapy.
- If you have radiating pain, numbness and/or tingling, you should see a doctor immediately. Your doctor will probably order an MRI to see if there is nerve impingement on your spine.
Mid and Lower Back (Thoracic and Lumber Spine)
The spine is made of connected bones called “vertebrae,” which surround the spinal cord and protect it. Nerves branch off the spinal cord to the rest of the body, allowing for communication between the brain and the body. The vertebrae are connected by a disc and two small joints called “facet” joints. The disc is made of connective tissues which hold one vertebra to the next, acting as a cushion. The disc and facet joints allow for movement and flexibility.
The disc is made of a tough outer layer and a soft center. Due to the force of an accident, the outer layer can tear, allowing displacement of the disc’s center (resulting in a herniated or ruptured disc) through the outer layer into the space occupied by the nerves and spinal cord.
The herniated disc in the neck can press on the nerves and cause pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the shoulders or arms. A herniated disc in the mid or lower back may cause the same problems in the lower part of your body, going down into your legs and feet. Particularly bad herniated discs can cause loss of bowel and bladder control known as cauda equine syndrome.
Some fortunate people with a herniated disc may heal without significant medical intervention. If pain continues, treatment could include one or more of these:
- Nonsurgical treatments include rest, a neck collar or back brace, anti-inflammatory medications to stop the swelling, drugs to control the pain, physical therapy, exercise or epidural steroid injections. Traction, electric stimulation, hot and cold packs and manual (“hands on”) therapy to reduce your pain could also be used.
- Epidural injections or “blocks” may be used for severe arm or leg pain. These injections of a corticosteroid are done into the area around the spinal nerves, normally as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation and treatment program. The injection should reduce inflammation of the nerve and the disc.
- Surgery may be necessary for some people. There are different types of surgeries, including: diskectomy (removing the part of the disc that’s pushing on the nerve), laminectomy (scraping the lamina to allow nerves more space, and spinal fusion (placing rods and pins between the vertebrae to prevent movement). Even with surgery, pain, limitation of motion, numbness and tingling could continue.
Symptoms of a spinal injury include:
- The head is in an unusual position
- Numbness or tingling down an arm or leg
- Difficulty walking
- Being unable to move arms or legs (paralysis)
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Shock (pale and clammy skin, bluish lips and fingernails, acting dazed or being semiconscious)
- Stiff neck, headache or neck pain.
Someone with a spinal injury should not be moved (unless in an emergency situation like a burning car) and be kept still until first responders arrive. Moving the person could result in further injury.
Severe spinal cord injuries such as the one actor, Christopher Reeves suffered, cannot be reversed. If the injury is severe enough, and depending on the location of the injury, the accident victim may suffer paralysis:
- Paraplegia: the loss of movement and/or feeling, which can be partial or complete, in the lower half of the body.
- Quadriplegia: the loss of movement and/or feeling, which can be partial or complete, below the head or neck.
If you or a loved one has suffered a neck, spine or back injury due to the negligence of another, call a Lexington, KY Injury Lawyer today at our local number — (859) 233-3641. Or use our toll-free number — 866-77JULIE. Under Kentucky law some personal injury actions must be brought within one year. So it’s important that you act without delay in order to protect your rights to compensation. If you prefer, you may use our online inquiry form. We will be glad to make a free and confidential evaluation of your case.