All You Ever Wanted to Know about Neck Injuries but Were Afraid to Ask

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2018 | Workers' Compensation |

When people think of neck pain, they see in their mind’s eye a picture of Julia Roberts in the courtroom scene when she portrayed Erin Brockovich. Not all neck problems, however, are caused by car crashes, nor are they all faked as they were in the film.  In fact, neck pain can take from several hours to several weeks to manifest after a trauma. By that time, sufferers can’t remember what actually caused their neck injury. Too many people suffer in silence following back and neck injuries, because they fear they can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt who or what the culprit was.  Let’s examine the neck to determine how it works, and then we’ll discuss possible causes of the pain.

How the Neck Works

When we turn our heads to answer a question, tuck our chin into our chests to dive into the pool, hold a phone between our shoulder and ear as well as rotate our neck to ease stiff muscles, then we are performing the complete range of the neck’s purpose. Its main purpose is to support and move a body that weights between 10 and 13 pounds: the head. However, these are just the muscles at work. The neck is made up of bones and ligaments, too, whose job is to protect and defend.

Few people recognize that the neck bones begin at the base of the skull and continue down into the upper spine or the thoracic spine in the back. These bones are called the cervical spine. Signals pass via nerves in the spine to the brain to inform it that something is going down. The bones in the spinal column protect and guide these nerves to their proper destination. Blood flow to the brain also uses this pathway.

Ligaments keep bones from rubbing together. When cervical ligaments are traumatized, they become lax. They no longer hold anything together, causing vertebrae to move around. This causes a great deal of pain in the sufferer. Nerve damage and/or pain is often involved, causing pain to spread to the face and arms, cause migraine headaches, ear problems, muscle spasms and chronic neck pain.

What Things Cause Neck Pain?

Since the neck is exposed to pretty much everything, then pretty much everything can injure it. How many times have you worked out with a zealous attitude and ended up with a sore body from the neck down? The opposite of this would be sitting at the computer all day with the head in one position. The neck becomes sore, because its muscles work hard to keep the head in position. Football, soccer, golf and all sorts of other sports can cause havoc with the neck for the obvious reasons. Have you ever tried the newest and coolest rides at the amusement park? The wilder they are, the more you love them, yes? Ever wondered what effect those rides have on your neck?

Other causes of neck injury are falls, objects falling onto the neck, lifting heavy objects and jumps onto unstable surfaces. Let’s say a warehouse worker takes a box off a stack of boxes in order to unpack the contents onto a cart for the sales floor. He unwittingly upsets the stack of boxes behind the one he took off the stack. As he is bent over cutting the box open, a few boxes behind the stack from which he took one fall onto his neck and upper back. That’s a recipe for neck injury. Another scenario would be laying collapsed cardboard boxes in a muddy spot in the yard, over which a guy is repairing a window on his house. His ladder falls, and he decides do leap to safety rather than take a tumble. The cardboard slides. This causes the man to fall and injure his neck. You can see how the most innocent of things can cause a neck injury.


Neck injury studies generally follow automobile statistics instead of other methods of injury. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety or IIHS produced a study to determine the ratio between IIHS-rated good seat and head restraints and poor seat and head restraints and the percentage of injuries there from. Used in the study were 2001 to 2014 model year autos and SUVs. Comparisons were done using driver age and gender along with severity of the injuries.

Rear end crashes impact the neck, because while the body is thrown forward by the force of the impact, the head is a little slower to move. This lag between movements causes whiplash, the largest percentage of injury in car accidents. Obviously, good-rated seat and head restraints saved the day, to the tune of 12.7 percent of females to 8.9 percent of males. Almost 20 percent of drivers aged 15 to 24 suffered less neck pain. For the 25 to 44 set, it was 10.4 percent, and the middle-aged to senior set at 45 to 64 had a 10.7 percent reduction in neck injury.

The study made a lot of mention of the gender and age bracket of the drivers in the study. Women aged 24 to 64 fared better, it said, in vehicles with good, medium and poor seat and head restraints than men did. Men, however, could drive a car with a poorly rated seat and head restraint and still receive less injury to their necks.

If you’ve been in a car accident or if your neck is hurt through another means, you need someone who can help you with doctors who don’t want to help you, insurance companies who don’t want to pay you along with a few other important things. When you contact us for more information, we will help you with all those things.

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