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What Kinds of Neck Injuries Are Catastrophic

R. Mark Maritote Dec. 5, 2018

Not all neck injuries lead to paralysis, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not life-changing wounds. Injuries to the neck and cervical region of the body can quickly become dangerous to those who are hurt. Swelling may lead to secondary injuries, nerve damage and chronic pain.

Some of the most common causes of neck injuries include falls, car crashes (like rear-end collisions) and sports-related impacts. These injuries can lead to pain, headaches, shoulder pain, numbness and other symptoms.

One of the most significant, and potential life-altering, injuries is one to the disks in the neck. A disk injury causes damage to the vertebral disk. The nerves in the neck can become inflamed as a result, which may cause pain, numbness and weakness from the neck downward. Sometimes, the nerves are so inflamed that people think they are paralyzed, but it’s often possible to regain some movement and feeling by treating that inflammation.

Spinal cord damage is also life-altering. Neck injuries can cause complete or incomplete spinal cord injuries. When the nerves in the spinal cord are completely cut, you’ll likely lose all movement, sensation and strength below the point of injury. If the injury is incomplete, you may retain some movement and feeling.

What should you do if you suffer a neck injury?

Don’t move. Call 911 and allow the medical team to take you to the hospital after assessing your injury and bracing it. With the right medical care received as soon as possible, you may be able to regain some amount of sensation or movement with any neck injury, even if it is catastrophic.