Millions of people are involved in car crashes each year, and many of them end up with neck injuries as a result. While the most common neck injury may be whiplash, there are other injuries that could occur. Neck injuries such as slipped/ruptured discs, broken bones and even internal decapitations could happen.
Each of these injuries has a different expected outcome for patients. Ruptured discs could lead to paralysis or dysfunction without treatment. A patient with internal decapitation injuries could be killed with a sudden movement. Broken bones may require casting and taking steps to prevent them from moving as they heal.
Any time a neck injury is a possibility, it's essential that the patient is kept calm and still.
How do you know if you have whiplash?
Whiplash may not be obvious right away. As a delayed-onset injury, you may begin to notice signs of whiplash, e.g., swelling and stiffness in the neck, within 24 to 48 hours after the crash.
Are there signs of ruptured discs?
Ruptured discs can cause pain, numbness, tingling, weakness and other unusual sensations.
Can patients really survive internal decapitation?
Yes, sometimes. Amazingly, around 1% of all spinal injuries are internal decapitations. They happen when the ligaments that connect the skull to the first vertebrae snap and are severed. The less terrifying name for this condition is an atlanto-occipital dislocation, which literally means that the skull isn't attached to the spine. While this is often fatal, 30% of victims don't die immediately. With the right stabilizing tools, some patients do make it to the hospital, go though surgery and survive.
As you can see, the range of neck injuries is vast. If you suffer one, remember that you may be able to pursue a claim against any at-fault driver involved in the collision.