Understanding Neck Injuries
Neck injuries can happen in all kinds of circumstances. Some of them can be relatively minor. You might be okay after resting and using ice for a few days. Other neck injuries can kill you instantly.
Because this is such a crucial body part, it's helpful to know a little more about neck injuries and what you can do about them. Let's talk about some different ones and how you might know what's happening with your neck if it ever starts to bother you.
A Neck Fracture
We'll start by talking about neck fractures. Signs and symptoms of a neck fracture exist, and pain in your neck is the most obvious sign. That might be a sharp pain, or you might experience a dull ache instead.
You might lose feeling in your limbs, or you may experience partial or total paralysis. A neck fracture can kill you if you fall on your head or neck sharply.
If you experience some symptoms, but they're not so bad, that probably indicates the neck injury is not all that serious. You might have wrenched or strained your neck instead of fracturing it.
Generally, you will know if you hurt your neck severely because you can point to a particular event that happened. That might be a car accident, or you might fall from a decent height and land on your head or neck.
If something like that happens, you need to call for an ambulance without delay. Getting to a hospital immediately might save your life. You should also try not to move until medical professionals arrive and advise you regarding what to do.
Less Serious Neck Injuries
A fracture means you've broken or otherwise damaged one of your neck bones. While serious neck fractures do kill people, some of them do not. You can potentially survive a neck fracture in some instances. You might need surgery, or sometimes only time and rest will heal the broken bone.
Less serious neck injuries often involve soft tissue trauma rather than broken vertebrae. Soft tissue-related neck injuries can still hurt you quite a bit, even if they don't necessarily threaten your life.
If your neck starts to hurt, and you're not sure of any particular reason for it, it could be something as simple as you sleeping in an odd position. That can irritate your neck. You might also find that neck or back irritation happens more often the older you get.
Older adults often have back or neck pain, and it can be soft tissue irritation rather than a broken bone, fractured disk, etc. However, you're not really going to know what's happening with your neck until you get a competent medical professional to have a look at it.
Once they do, you can determine what's going on with it. You might need X-rays, but if those don't reveal anything, you may also need an MRI. An MRI can often show what's happening with the soft tissue if the X-ray is inconclusive.
You'll also usually need to get an X-ray for insurance purposes before you can get a neck MRI. Most insurance companies want you to get tested in that order. They won't order an MRI until you've had the X-ray first.
Recovering from Neck Injuries
Neck injuries can be pretty serious, but in many cases, you can recover from them. After seeing a doctor and determining via test results what's happening with your neck, you can come up with the best path forward.
Many times, you'll need to use over-the-counter pain meds to counteract the discomfort while you heal. Other times, the doctor might be willing to give you prescription pain meds to help with more serious neck injuries. Doctors often feel reluctant to do that these days, though, because of the persistent opioid epidemic that has ravaged America over the past couple of decades.
You might have to wear a brace to keep your neck in position while it heals. That's not much fun since you have to continue wearing the brace, even when you're trying to sleep.
You May Not Be Able to Work While You Recover
It's possible that your neck problem might be bad enough that you will not be able to work for weeks or even months in more extreme cases. It's probable that you may be able to go on disability during that time, which should help you financially.
If you hurt your neck while on the job, you will almost certainly be able to receive disability payments. You can use them to pay your rent, mortgage, utility bills, and so forth.
It's also possible that you might be able to work from home, even with the neck still bothering you. That all depends on the injury's severity and what it is you do for a living.
Some jobs and bosses will let you work from home, and you can put in a few hours every day if you feel up to it. If your injured neck enables you to be productive, you'll probably want that. Otherwise, you may not be able to do much except lie around until you're more mobile again.
Neck Problems Are More Prevalent with Older Adults
It's possible that you can injure your neck at any age, but, like back injuries, neck problems seem to materialize more the older you get. The body cannot sustain damage as well when you get up there in years.
You can try to modify your life, so you're as careful as possible not to injure your back, but the reality is that even if you're very cautious, neck injuries can still happen. Maybe you're not doing anything like skiing or skateboarding, but neck injuries can occur even if you're hardly doing anything strenuous or risky at all.
Hopefully, if you do injure your neck, it will prove not to be very serious. You can do what the doctor tells you to recover, and you should be back in action before too much time elapses.