Some of the largest vehicles on the road today like 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, and dump trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds more than the average car. Those involved in accidents with such massive vehicles usually bear most of the fore produced by the impact. Therefore, injuries sustained in a truck accident tend to be much more severe than those caused in a car accident.
Ranging in severity from whiplashes to para- or quadri-plegic paralysis, most common injuries that occur in truck accidents involve the spinal column, especially the neck and back. While cases of permanent disability are relatively uncommon, most truck accident victims with neck and back injuries will require extensive therapeutic treatment as part of their recovery.
The human spine (the vertebral column) consists of 33 bones (vertebrae) collectively supported by a series of muscles, tendons and ligaments. Separating the individual vertebrae are intervertebral discs that act as shock absorbers and stabilize the spinal column which consists of the following regions:
- Cervical region (neck): C1-C7
- Thoracic (trunk or mid-back): T1-T12
- Lumbar (lower back): L1-L5
- Sacrum (completes the hip posteriorly): S1-S5, fused
- Coccyx (tail bone): 4 fused vertebrae
In addition to debilitating physical harm, victims of trucking accidents often suffer chronic neck or back pain that prevents them from returning to work in either full or part time capacity. Then there’s the factor of needing constant care, since the extent of injuries and pain may render victims of trucking accidents incapable of completing routine household tasks and even maintaining personal hygiene.
Vehicular accidents of all types are a common cause of spinal fractures, specifically fractured or crushed vertebrae. Once the diagnosis of vertebral fracture becomes confirmed, a brace may be prescribed by a physician such as an orthopedist.
Herniated intervertebral discs are also common. A displacement of the viscous cartilage-like material that makes up the bodies of intervertebral discs into the spinal canal may occur from extreme momentary compression. Over a relatively short period of time after the accident, accumulation of liquid disc material in the spinal canal causes compression of the corresponding level of the spinal cord leading to chronic (or consistent) pain in the back that radiates (spreads) to upper or lower extremities. Symptoms of herniated spinal discs often include sharp and intense pain radiating to the shoulders or down the arms into fingertips, muscle tightness and cramping.
A bulging disc, on the other hand, is not a tear but occurs when an intervertebral disc protrudes through the spinal canal compressing a nerve root as it branches from the spinal cord. Bulging discs tend to occur in the lumbar spine (lower back). Even though discs are prone to shifting slowly over time, a violent event like a motor-accident may cause an acute shift accompanied by excruciating radiating pain. Like with spinal hernias, symptoms of a bulging disc vary from muscle spasms, pain and tingling in the neck (cervicalgia), shoulders or arms and upper back pain radiating into the frost of the trunk.
Diagnostic imaging like a CT or MRI scans can pinpoint a spinal disc lesion, so doctors prefer to explore such non-invasive options first. A common form of corrective and prophylactic treatment is physical therapy, introducing a series of stretching exercises in combination with alternating hot and cold packs. If physical therapy yields little to no improvement, an invasive approach including injections like epidural nerve blocks, facet joint or sacroiliac joint injections. Surgery is the always the last option and typically includes either a spinal fusion or discectomy.
Even though the aforementioned spinal injuries are the most common in trucking accidents, there are many other conditions a motor-accident victim may sustain. A HURT-511 personal injury lawyers help injured workers recover the benefits to which they are entitled by law. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, call us toll-free at 800-4878-511 or complete our online form. Our firm handles accident and injury claims throughout all five boroughs of New York.
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