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Neck injuries: Types, causes and prevention

| Feb 4, 2021 | Back and neck injuries

One of the parts of your body that is most vulnerable to serious injuries at work is your neck. Because your neck connects your brain to your torso and limbs, it serves as a type of bodily highway that contains vital arteries, glands, bones and nerves.

Common neck injury causes

Far too often, people sustain painful neck injuries at work, often as a result of activities such as the following:

  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Falls
  • Repetitive motions
  • Being struck by a falling object
  • Motor vehicle crashes (especially in rear-impact collisions)

Of course, people can sustain injuries to their necks in many non-work-related activities, such as competitive sports, diving into unknown waters and any of the activities listed above.

Types of neck injuries

There is a wide array of types of neck injuries, including the following:

  • Disk injury: This type of neck injury involves damage to a vertebral disk, often sustained during heavy lifting. Disk injuries can result in nerve damage that causes pain in limbs and other parts of the body.
  • Whiplash: These injuries typically occur in motor vehicle crashes that cause violent head movements. In cases of whiplash, the damage often done to soft tissues in your neck (muscles, ligaments), but can also be done to nerves. Symptoms can include neck pain and stiffness, dizziness, headaches, numbness, tingling and weakness in your limbs.
  • Repetitive strain: Often from poor posture or awkward positioning while working at a computer.
  • Vertebral fracture: Another injury common in vehicle crashes, it involves a break or fracture of one or more of the seven vertebrae in your neck. This type of injury can include spinal cord damage.
  • Spinal cord damage: Again, in work-related incidents, this type of injury is most common in vehicle crashes, though it can also occur in falls or when a person is struck by a falling object. Spinal cord injuries are the most severe neck injuries; they can result in paralysis or death.

Neck injury prevention is pretty straightforward: always buckle up before starting a motor vehicle and never drive while impaired. Also, turn off your phone before you start driving, whether you’re driving for work or for personal reasons.

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