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NJ Car Accident Cases – Treatment of Cervical (Neck) Spine Injuries

Philip Ciprietti, NJ Car & Truck Accident Lawyer

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Whether it is a driver, passenger or pedestrian, neck injuries sustained in a car accident can be very serious. Extended medical treatment is often necessary, and the injuries can become permanent.

Cervical Treatment Course After a Car Accident

1. ER Treatment

In most car accident cases, the injured individual will be taken to a local hospital/emergency room. There, the patient will undergo a physical examination and usually x-rays. In the absence of other injuries, the patient is usually discharged with medication and instructions to follow up with a family doctor.

In serious injury cases, when an x-ray shows a fracture or a CT scan shows disc pathology such as a cervical herniation or protrusion, the patient may be discharged with instructions to visit an orthopedic doctor.

2. Chiropractic Treatment & Rest

Initially, the patient will probably be given a referral for chiropractic treatment, additional medication such as muscle relaxers and will also be told to rest. Within several weeks or a month, if this treatment does not alleviate the symptoms, diagnostic treatment will be necessary, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). An MRI will reveal disc pathology such as bulging, herniations, etc.

3. Physical Therapy & Injections

After the MRI reveals disc pathology, the doctor will probably order physical therapy for the specific regions of cervical injury. Four to eight weeks of physical therapy is common. If the patient’s neck pain and symptoms do not get better or get worse with physical therapy, the doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections directly into the injured disc. Nerve block injections may also be recommended. These are usually performed by pain management specialists.

4. Surgery

In some cases, surgery will be necessary. There are many types of spinal surgeries. However, below are three of the most common types of spinal procedures in car accident cases:

  • spinal fusion (spinal bones/vertebrae are fused or joined together),
  • laminectomy (parts of the spinal bone are shaved or removed), and
  • discectomy (parts of a spinal disc are removed).

In many situations, an individual with serious spinal pathology may have one or more of these procedures at the same time. For instance, laminectomy and fusion are commonly performed together.

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