When people think about severe neck injuries, they often think about breaks that injure the spinal cord and lead to paralysis. In the worst cases, this is complete paralysis from the neck down.
These injuries do happen and they are just as serious as they sound. However, it is important to remember that more “minor” neck injuries can still lead to a disability and change your life. Potential issues include:
- Fractured cervical spine: This is, essentially, a broken neck. It is possible to fracture the vertebrae in your neck without causing paralysis, but movement after that break can lead to serious complications. That’s why medical care and stabilization must happen as soon as possible.
- Herniated disc: The spinal discs that you depend on for movement contain a jellylike fluid. A herniated disc happens when this fluid bulges or leaks.
- Nerve damage: Even something as simple as a pinched nerve can make it painful or impossible to move your neck or turn your head. Nerve damage is problematic because it does not always heal well and, in some cases, will not heal at all, even when surrounding physical issues have healed.
- Tendon or muscle injuries: While soft-tissue injuries are usually far less severe, they still take time to heal and can lead to a temporary disability while you do so. You may be glad that you’re not disabled for the long term, but you may still need assistance and options as you recover.
If you have suffered a neck injury and you’re out of work as a result, make sure you know what rights you have to benefits. If your condition seems like it may last more than a year (or already has), you may need to consider filing for Social Security Disability benefits. An advocate can help you learn more.