If you suffered a Cervical Sprain/Strain in an accident, call our Boston area attorneys today for your free consultation.
Car accidents are a daily occurrence in Massachusetts and cause a wide variety of injuries. Some of the most common injuries are cervical sprains and strains. Rear-end accidents, side-impact collisions, and head-on crashes can whip a motor vehicle occupant’s head back and forth or side to side in a matter of milliseconds. When a head, with an average weight of 10 to 12 pounds, gets whipped back and forward in a crash, it creates a considerable amount stress on the cervical neck. During a crash the cervical neck tries to stabilize the head in order to prevent it from snapping back and forth. This places a tremendous amount of stress on the head and spine which results in strained and sprained muscles and ligaments.
About the Cervical Spine
The cervical spine starts at the base of the head, or skull, and runs down to the shoulders and upper back where it connects to the thoracic spine. The cervical spine is comprised of 7 vertebrae (C1-C7) that house the spinal cord. In addition to protecting the spinal cord and supporting the head, the cervical spine provides the head with its range of motion and flexibility- it is what allows us the turn our heads up and down and side to side. An intricate network of muscles, ligaments and tendons runs through the cervical spine which helps provide the support and stability along with the flexibility and range of motion.
The force generated in a rear-end crash causes the head to whip back and then forward in a matter of milliseconds. When the head is in motion the cervical spine fights to stabilize the head. This exerts a considerable amount force on the spine which causes the ligaments, muscle and tendons to strain. This stretches the tendons, ligaments and muscles past their limits which results in cervical strains and sprains and even tears.
Even minor rear-end impact collisions can generate enough force to cause cervical strains or sprains. Getting rear-ended by a car traveling 5 to 10 miles-per-hour can subject the head to a 6 to 12 G-force acceleration. To put that into perspective, the fastest roller coasters in the world only generates around a 6 G-force acceleration. So a human head that is stationary moments before a 5 to 10 miles-per-hour rear-end collision can accelerate faster than the fastest roller coaster in a matter of milliseconds. This creates a tremendous amount of the strain on the cervical spine.
Other Factors that Contribute the Cervical Sprains and Strains
- Seat headrests provide the greatest protection in rear-end accidents. However, if the headrest is not positioned close to the back of the head it won’t be able prevented the head from whipping backwards. If the headrest is too low the head might whip over the top of the headrest.
- Unexpected collisions result in more severe injuries. The ligaments experience the most damage in these accidents. When drivers see the impact coming in the rear-view mirror they have an opportunity to brace themselves for impact which causes them clench the wheel and tense up all their muscles. In this situation the muscles get injured first. Front seat passengers have a greater risk of injury because they don’t have a steering wheel to brace themselves with.
- The position of the head in the moments prior to impact has a serious effect on the extent of the injuries. A driver that has his head turned to the side like when looking out the window for oncoming traffic faces greater risk of injury than the driver that is looking straight ahead prior to the accident.
Symptoms of Cervical Sprains and Strains
Symptoms of cervical strains and sprains include sharp burning pain, swelling and decreased range of motion. Concussion-like symptoms including headaches, dizziness, light sensitivity, difficulty sleeping, and nausea can also result. Swelling in the neck can cause great discomfort in the jaw making swallowing, drinking and chewing difficult (for these symptoms view our page on temporomandibular joint injuries). Pain and discomfort in the shoulders can travel down through the arms into the hands (for these symptoms view our pages on herniated and bulging discs cervical herniated discs and cervical radiculopathy). Pain usually increases with activity. In some case chronic pain can develop.
Treatment for Cervical Sprains and Strain Injuries
If you experienced head or neck trauma in an accident and refused medical treatment at the scene you should get medical treatment immediately. The extent of most injuries isn’t apparent at first. If you experience sharp burning pain, pins and needles like sensations, numbness or weakness in the hands you should see your doctor immediately as these symptoms could mean you have a herniated or bulging disc. Your doctor may set out a conservative course of treatment that includes physical therapy and light stretching. Other cases might call for electrical nerve stimulation, traction or pain injections
Experienced Boston Area Personal Injury Trial Lawyers – We Fight For Accident Victims Who Suffered Back or Spinal Cord Injuries
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Our knowledgeable and experienced Greater Boston personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan are available to assist clients throughout all of Southeast Massachusetts, including but not limited to Brockton, Taunton, Bridgewater, Weymouth, Hingham, Quincy, Plymouth, Marshfield, Attleboro, Canton, Stoughton and all smaller cities and rural areas in Southern Massachusetts. We also serve the counties of Plymouth, Norfolk and Bristol, Massachusetts.
No matter where you are located, we are just a phone call away. Call our law offices today to schedule a free no-obligation case review and consultation at (508) 588-0422 and you will have taken your first step towards getting the compensation you deserve. You can also click here to use our Free Case Evaluation Form.