The majority of neck and spine injuries occur during sports activities, work-related activities and other such activities and not from simple wear and tear, though these things can cause pain and symptoms that can last for a long period of time.
Spinal injuries, are more serious and most often they occur in relation to a fall or a blunt trauma, in situations like car accidents or similar. When a spinal injury occurs, it can be compounded with injury to the spinal cord, adding a further level of severity to symptoms and after-effects.
Common Neck and Spine Injuries
Common Neck Injuries
Minor neck injuries to the neck can be caused by everyday activities, and may cause pain for a while, but usually don’t require any treatment.
Causes of Minor Neck Injuries
Holding your head in an uncomfortable posture for an extended period of time
- Sleeping on a pillow that doesn’t meet your needs; is either too flat or too thick and holds your head at a bad angle
- Tension and sitting at a desk or computer for extended periods of time can cause the muscles in the shoulders and the neck to tense and you may experience a soreness or stiffness
- Any work or exercise that uses the upper arms or shoulders
Other neck injuries that are slightly more severe are:
- Whiplash caused by sudden braking or a car accident
- Tripping or falling in the wrong way
- A blow to the back or top the head
- A stab in the neck, penetrating the skin
- Or any external pressure on the neck, like strangulation
Common Spine Injuries
Any fracture that impacts the spinal column (vertebrae) or the middle or lower back area is most likely caused by a serious incident such as a car accident, bad fall or an injury sustained in sporting activities. Depending on the severity of a fracture, the spinal cord could be at risk of dangerous injury, meaning that any back injury should be taken very seriously.
Symptoms of Severe Spine Injury
- Moderate to severe back exacerbated by any movement
- When the spinal cord is injured, numbness, tingling or weakness in the bladder or bowels can also occur
When the back is injured, most often surgery and a brace will be required to ensure no further damage is done and to ensure the injury heals correctly.
Five main types of spine fractures that can occur in spinal accidents:
- Compression Fracture: The front of the vertebra will break and sink, while the back of it will stay in place
- Axial Bust Fracture: Both the front and rear of the vertebra will lose height and is often caused by a fall in which you land on your feet
- Flexion/Distraction Fracture: This is where the vertebra is pulled apart, known as distraction. This commonly occurs in head on car crashes, where the upper body is thrusted forward and the lower body is pulled back by the seatbelt
- Transverse Process Fracture: This fracture is usually caused by extreme rotation or sideways movement
- Fracture Dislocation: This injury involves both bone and soft tissue and can mean that one vertebra will displace itself off the adjacent one
Since back and neck injuries can lead to serious after-effects and cause long-term issues, it is highly important that you are seen by a doctor as soon as possible, and if possible, no movement affecting the back should be made until you have been examined.
Learn more about back injuries and disorders on the Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute (OSMI) website.
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