Whiplash happens when the head rapidly moves forward and backward, causing muscles and ligaments to strain. While whiplash usually is not a catastrophic injury, it can lead to one. Indeed, if you have whiplash after a car accident, you also might have spinal cord compression.
According to UCLA Health, spinal cord compression is a potentially life-limiting injury that happens when the bones, disks or ligaments in your neck come too close to your spinal cord. Not only does spinal cord compression interfere with the natural movement of cerebrospinal fluid, but it also can interrupt nerve signals from your brain to the rest of your body.
Common signs of spinal cord compression
If you have whiplash following a car accident, it is advisable to go to a trauma center for a full evaluation. After all, any injury to your neck has the potential to compress your spinal cord. Still, if you have one or more of the following symptoms, you probably need immediate medical attention:
- Weakness in your extremities
- Burning, numbness or tingling in your hands or feet
- Difficulty moving your fingers or toes
- Stiffness in your neck or back
Available treatment options
Even though a spinal cord compression is likely to interrupt your life for a few weeks, modern medicine offers some effective treatment options. Often, though, patients require both surgery and ongoing physical rehabilitation. Your doctor can discuss your injury, prognosis and treatment options with you to help you make informed choices about your care.
Ultimately, because treating spinal cord compression can be pricey, you might need to pursue financial compensation from the driver who caused your accident.