How can a relatively minor rear-end impact still cause a serious spinal injury?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2021 | Car Crashes

Most people don’t associate spinal injuries with rear-end car crashes.  However, these collisions can commonly cause serious neck and back injuries; even in so-called low velocity “fender benders” with relatively minor vehicle damage.  This is because a driver or front seat passenger’s neck is unrestrained.  Their backs may be restrained by a seatbelt, but the head and neck will be thrown backwards, then forwards causing the spine to be subjected to destructive torque or forces.

These forces can readily cause whiplash or a herniated disc, which can cause excruciating pain, limit mobility and result in a host of other symptoms that can affect your physical and mental well-being. Let’s take a look at these conditions in a little more detail.

Whiplash injuries

This happens when the neck (specifically the cervical spine) moves back and forth suddenly. That sharp movement causes trauma in the neck tissues. While whiplash has been widely derided over the years by insurance companies, it’s a very real injury that can cause not just pain and limited mobility in the neck but such wide-ranging symptoms as:

  • Headaches
  • Numbness in the arms
  • Upper back and shoulder pain
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Memory and sleep issues

Sometimes, whiplash symptoms don’t appear until a few days following a crash. Therefore, it’s important not to assume you haven’t suffered whiplash if you don’t feel it immediately.

Herniated disc injuries

A herniated disc is also sometimes referred to as a ruptured or bulging disc. Any kind of repetitive strain or sudden trauma (as in a rear-end collision) can cause it. The discs in your spine cushion your vertebrae. When one becomes herniated, the soft center of it leaks through the harder exterior and puts pressure on surrounding nerves.

This can cause unbearable pain from the victim’s shoulders to their lower back and into their arms and legs. A herniated disc can also cause tingling and muscle weakness in a victim’s extremities.

It’s essential to get a complete medical check-up if you’ve been involved in a car crash – even after what may seem to be only a “fender-bender.” As we noted, symptoms don’t always appear immediately. Further, what may seem like a minor injury may worsen over time. You should never accept a settlement from an insurance company until you know the extent of all of your injuries, expenses and damages, and consult with an experienced attorney.

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