Common Symptoms of Neck Injuries
Common symptoms of neck injuries can vary, depending on how your injury happened and which parts of your head, neck, and shoulders were damaged.
Some common symptoms of work-related neck injuries include:
- Inability to turn your head in one direction, making it harder to drive
- Stiffness in your neck that makes it hard to sleep or work
- Frequent headaches, which compromise your work efficiency
- “Referred pain” that develops in other parts of your body like the shoulders, back, or legs
- Problems sleeping from neck pain
- Pinched nerves
The pain of your symptoms may cause anxiety or irritability.
Common Types of Neck Injuries
Your cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae supporting the neck and protecting the upper part of the spine. Between the vertebrae are slim discs, consisting of a harder outer layer and softer inner layer, cushioning each bone and absorbing the shock of movement.
The cervical spine is supported by more than 15 muscle groups and six major ligaments, the spinal canal, and a complex vascular system that serves the brain.
The complexity of this part of the body, and the delicacy of some of the muscles, give it a wide range of motion. But because it’s the most flexible part of the spine, it’s also most vulnerable to spinal cord injury.
Some of the most common neck injuries include:
- Cervical Dislocation: This ligament injury leads to the abnormal separation of two bones. These can be traumatic or degenerative and cause minor or major damage. A dislocation can also lead to a ruptured or herniated disc.
- Herniated Disc: This happens when the disc bulges outward due to prolonged pressure in one spot. Whiplash injuries often cause herniated discs. They are subject to rupturing, affecting the motion of your spine. When the disc ruptures, the soft inner portion can touch the spinal cord, which can be very painful.
- Sprain: Sprains are tears to the soft tissue supporting the neck or stress on the ligaments from sudden trauma or continuously being in an unnatural position. A sprain can happen if you twist the wrong way or constantly sit in an uncomfortable chair or position.
- Strain, Stress, or Muscle Damage: These are caused by tears or stress on the muscles in the neck and can happen from whiplash, repetitive motion, or sudden trauma. It can also happen if you work in a sedentary job and your neck is consistently in an awkward position.
- Contusions: Bruises can happen from a whiplash injury or a sudden blow like a car accident. These can lead to internal bleeding, which can be highly dangerous.
- Fractures: Fractures usually result from a high-impact injury, as one would suffer in a car wreck. Compression fractures, on the other hand, typically occur through a degenerative condition like osteoporosis.
Cervical vertebrae protect the spinal cord, so any traumatic injury to that part of the body also risks damaging the spine. This could lead to paralysis or even death.