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Legal Blog

Signs Your Neck Pain Could Be a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

After a car crash or work accident, you may experience delayed pain in different parts of your body. If you hit your head during the incident, you would probably expect headaches, some nausea, maybe some dizziness, brain fog, light sensitivity, and even fatigue. These are all very common signs of a traumatic brain injury, which, if not treated by a medical professional, can be very serious and cause permanent damage. A not-so-common symptom of a traumatic brain injury that many accident victims may not associate with concussions or a hard hit to the head is neck pain. Many accident victims experience neck pain days to weeks to months after a concussion or whiplash injury and do not realize it is a symptom of a traumatic brain injury. In a study that tracked patients admitted to the emergency room for traumatic brain injuries, acute neck pain complaints were reported in 156 patients out of 922 patients. This reported neck pain was found to be directly related to the patients’ brain injuries. The results of the study found that identifying the neck pain as part of the TBI and treating the brain injury in a timely manner was essential to having the patient recover as much as is possible from the traumatic brain injury.

Neck pain symptoms that may be associated with a traumatic brain injury can include:

  • Sharp pain that is present all the time
  • Tension
  • Stiffness
  • Pain when looking in a certain direction
  • Pain associated with certain behaviors
  • The feeling of not being able to support the weight of your head
  • Weakness or tingling in the arms, legs, hands, or fingers
  • The worsening of symptoms over time

If you are struggling with neck pain after being involved in an accident or incident in which you hit your head, seek medical attention immediately.

Causes of Neck Pain Associated with a Traumatic Brain Injury

Why is the neck involved when the head experiences trauma? There are many post-concussion or traumatic brain injury issues that can cause neck pain after the fact. There may be a physical injury to the neck caused by whiplash or fall or there may be dysfunction in the nervous system as a result of the hit to the head.

Here are some of the common causes of neck pain associated with a TBI:

  • Physical injury to the neck’s soft tissue or bones, including sprains, strains, tissue tears, and broken bones.
  • Damage to nerves in the neck causes tension, inflammation, blood pressure changes, and more.
  • Injury-induced vision and hearing changes can put stress on the neck muscles.
  • Altered pain perception is caused by damage to the area of the brain that senses pain.
  • Compensation behaviors to reduce pain in other areas, including changing posture and moving the head in a certain way to avoid pain, all putting pressure on the neck muscles.
  • Misalignment of the spinal column, including herniated discs, vertebrae out of place, and spinal cord damage.

Any of these conditions can cause severe neck pain and could indicate that your injury stems from a traumatic brain injury. Patients who have been in an accident often experience more than one of these symptoms and should be treated carefully under the advisement of a medical professional experienced in brain injuries. If the victim already has a degenerative disorder, scoliosis, for example, a head injury can quickly worsen that condition and the injured party may experience an increase in neck pain.

Doctors will often use diagnostic imaging to determine whether a patient has suffered a traumatic brain injury and to get a better look at how it may be causing neck pain. Many healthcare professionals will begin with an X-ray to look at the bone structure and rule out any broken bones. If the bone structure of the victim looks healthy, a doctor may move on to an MRI of the cervical spine. MRIs show the soft tissue structure of the body and can show if there is soft tissue damage, herniated discs, and more. It is one of the best tools to diagnose a traumatic brain injury and associated neck pain and one of the best methods by which a doctor can recommend the appropriate treatment for these serious types of injuries.

Houston Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys

If you have suffered a head injury in an accident, your life may never be the same again, and/or it can take a long time and a lot of hard work to get back to normal. You may experience chronic pain, physical limitations, disfigurement, or even more serious consequences depending on the nature of your injuries. You need someone on your side to fight for your rights so you can focus on your physical recovery and on trying to restore as much normalcy to your life as you can. At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our experienced Houston traumatic brain injury lawyers know what you are dealing with and that no two injuries are alike. Contact us at 281-326-9202 to discuss your unique set of challenges and learn more about how we can help your recover the compensation you need and deserve.