Cervical radiculopathy after a car accident

Jason Epstein
Jason Epstein is a Seattle personal injury attorney, fan of the original Star Trek, and his favorite superhero is The Hulk. Find Jason on Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Auto accident injuries can come in many different forms. Virtually any part of your body is vulnerable to the risk of injury. Trauma can have many different affects on your body. Spinal injures, such as cervical radiculopathy, are frequently the result of car accidents. Receiving this diagnosis from your doctor can be daunting, simply because you may not know what it means for you and your future quality of life.

What is cervical radiculopathy?

If you have been the victim of a car accident and have experienced the type of injury that results from spinal trauma, you may have severe pain, discomfort, and sometimes death. The damage a car accident can cause to your spine can be lasting, severe, and sometimes life threatening. It can also take some time after the accident to present itself, which is why it is absolutely vital that your doctor examines you after an accident.

Cervical radiculopathy is the medical description of pain and neurological symptoms resulting from irritation to the cervical spine at the C5, C6, and C7 vertebrae. This happens when there is damage or disturbance of nerve function resulting from compression of one of the nerve roots near the cervical vertebrae. A “pinched nerve” as it is commonly known will not work properly and will reduce feeling in arms and shoulders.

Cervical Radiculopathy

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Damage to nerve roots in this area can cause pain and the loss of sensation in different parts of the body. Your doctor may diagnose you if you feel pain, weakness or numbness in the areas served by the damaged nerve. Pain can be in only a singular area, or progress to others. The type of pain can also vary. For example, some people diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy experience dull pain, while others experience sharp, stabbing pains. Some pain can be felt all over your body, while other parts of your body may feel a different sensation. Certain movements may increase the pain, while others could alleviate it for the time being.

Which of your vertebrae is affected and how badly determines how much pain you may feel and where. Cervical nerves exit the spine at each one of your vertebra levels to enable different parts of your body to function appropriately. Your doctor will conclude which vertebra is damaged by the symptoms you experience. For example, C5 radiculopathy (damage to the 5th level of your cervical spine) can cause pain and/or weakness to your upper arms and shoulders. C6 radiculopathy causes pain or weakness along the length of the arm, wrists, and the thumb and index finger. While any one of your vertebra levels can be injured, the most common is C7 radiculopathy. Damage to this part of your spine can cause pain and/or weakness from the neck to the hand, and down the middle finger.

Treatment of cervical radiculopathy

If being involved in a car accident and have received a diagnosis of cervical radiculopathy, you must seek treatment. There is a wide range of treatments available for symptoms of mild pain or extreme pain. Determining your treatment options will depend on the severity of your case.

If your diagnosis is mild, your treatment options include rest and collar immobilization, which simply helps you to limit the amount of movement in your neck to allow time for it to heal. Pain medication may help your recovery and control inflammation of the injured area. Medications include anti-inflammatory prescriptions and/or steroids. Physical therapy (such as visiting a chiropractor) can help you throughout the process of treatment in addition to another one, or simply used at the end to regain strength.

If your injury is more severe, then your treatment may result in surgery. Anterior Cervical Diskectomy and Fusion (ACDF) is an option, and the most common procedure for this injury. During the procedure, the problem disk is removed and the left over area is stretched. A bone graft is placed in the space where the disk was removed and the two vertebrae next to the removed disk are fused together. A metal plate and screws are often used to keep the worked on area stable over-time. Another option is Posterior Cervical Laminoforaminotomy, which removes parts of the bone that are compressing the nerve root. This operation avoids sine fusion and metal plates, but may not be appropriate for more severe cases. Finally Artificial Disk Replacement (ADR) is the newest surgical treatment for cervical radiculopathy. This option allows for minimal long-term treatment, which keeps you out of the doctors’ office. The problem disk is removed, along with any bone that could be damaging it, and an artificial disk replaces it.

No matter how minor your injuries and treatment for them is, there are always risks involved. This means that you should focus on getting the best care available. Dealing with your doctors and insurance companies after and auto accident will only increase your risk of never fully recovering. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you throughout this process. Not only will a skilled personal injury attorney know how to handle the insurance companies, so that you do not have to worry about who will be footing the bill for your treatment, but they will also guide you in the direction of the right treatment options for you.

If your doctor has recently diagnosed you with cervical radiculopathy after a car accident, an experienced personal injury attorney will be your biggest asset. They will be ale to guide you through this difficult process and get you the compensation you need for your medical treatment.

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