If you’ve been involved in an accident at work and now your neck hurts, you should inform your employer right away. The workers’ compensation system requires employees to use their employers’ preferred medical providers in order to receive benefits (subject to certain limitations and exceptions), and the longer you wait, the worse your injury may become.
Neck injuries can range from temporary and relatively minor to permanent, life-altering conditions. If you have neck pain after a workplace accident, you may be suffering from one of several different conditions.
Understanding Work-Related Neck Injuries
Generally speaking, trauma-related neck pain stems from three main causes:
Damage to the muscles and ligaments in your neck
Damage to the vertebrae in your spine
Damage to the discs that separate your vertebrae
In addition to neck pain, these types of damage can also lead to headaches, weakness, stiffness, limited range of motion, and pain in the arms, shoulders, and back.
Neck Strains and Sprains
Neck strains and sprains occur when the muscles (strain) and ligaments (sprain) in the neck and back get overextended or overused. Common causes include:
Lifting heavy objects
Sudden twisting movements
Strains and sprains range from mild (requiring rest and ice) to severe. Severe muscle and ligament injuries can keep you out of work for extended periods of time. With any kind of sprain or strain, it is important to allow the injury to heal fully before returning to normal activity. Going back to work before you are fully healed makes it much more likely that you will re-aggravate the injury. If your employer tries to make you return to work before your injury heals, we can help you stand up for your rights and ensure that you receive adequate medical care.
Whiplash is most common in rear-end vehicle collisions, but can also result from falls and other traumatic events. Whiplash is actually a set of symptoms that results from injuries to your neck muscles, ligaments, and/or discs.
Herniated discs occur when repetitive or sudden stress to the joints in your spine cause tears in the outer fibers of your discs. These tears allow the inner material of the discs to escape, leading to pain, weakness, and feelings of “pins and needles” in your arms.
Herniated disc injuries typically require physical therapy and medication, though in some cases surgery may be required for a full recovery.
Neck Fractures and Spinal Cord Injuries
The most severe neck injuries involve fractured vertebrae, which often lead to spinal cord injuries. These injuries can result in partial or complete paralysis, and sometimes can be fatal. If you experience a severe trauma and have neck pain as a result, you should stay immobile until the EMTs arrive.
Get Help for Your Work-Related Neck Injury
Pothitakis Law Firm provides experienced representation for individuals who suffer neck injuries on the job. We can help you seek appropriate medical care while ensuring that you retain your right to workers’ compensation. For a free consultation, please contact us today.