Many Accidents Can Cause Herniated Discs at C4/C5 or C5/C6: Here’s What You Need To Know

Today’s vehicles are safer than ever, featuring things like multiple airbags, antilock brakes, and a range of sensors designed to warn drivers of dangers on the road. Even so, technology cannot fully compensate for roadway conditions or human errors that often lead to crashes.

For instance, in 2021, the State of Illinois alone reported over 9,000 serious injuries related to motor vehicle crashes. Some of the most common of these injuries included head injuries and neck injuries, like concussions and whiplash, as well as other spinal cord injuries

The discs that cushion the C4/C5 and C5/C6 vertebrae may be particularly susceptible to injury in crash scenarios. But where are these discs found? And how could they be damaged in something like a car accident? Most importantly, what should you do if you suffer a herniated disc due to a collision? 

Here’s everything you need to know.

Spinal Anatomy

The C4, C5, and C6 vertebrae are located in the neck, spanning from around the middle of the neck to its base. These vertebrae are separated by discs of articulating cartilage that allow for smooth movement, including a range of neck and shoulder motions. 

Fibrous discs featuring a gel-like center are designed to cushion the vertebrae and absorb shocks, but they can be damaged by extreme motions or impacts, such as those that occur in a rear-end collision or other vehicle crash.

A Pain in the Neck

When an impact occurs during a car collision, it’s not uncommon for the head to be whipped forward, backward, or from side to side. Such intense motion can cause unnatural separations or compressions to the vertebrae in the neck, potentially resulting in damage to C4/C5 or C5/C6 discs.

One of the more common injuries in that area of the neck is a herniated disc. It is a type of injury that involves a rupture of the rubbery, fibrous outer shell of the disc, allowing the softer, gel-like interior to leak out.

Hernias in the neck typically result in shooting pains in the shoulders and arms, particularly with sudden, involuntary motions like coughing or sneezing or when your body is in certain positions.

You may also experience numbness, tingling sensations, or weakness in the affected limbs. This is because herniated discs collapse, pinching the nerves that radiate out into the body from the spinal column.

Diagnosing a Herniated Disc

It’s important to understand that you might not have symptoms right away, but herniated discs can deteriorate over time, leading to worsening symptoms. 

In a similar sense, it’s crucial to be aware of the fact that herniated discs can go undiagnosed following an auto or motorcycle accident. The reason has to do with the tests typically ordered for patients involved in a vehicle collision. 

Relatively inexpensive X-rays are commonly used to check for serious injuries like broken bones, dislocated joints, and more, but they are not ideal for identifying disc injuries like hernias.

While an X-ray could show that vertebrae are out of alignment, possibly signaling damage to the cartilage, an MRI or CT scan is needed to definitively diagnose a herniated disc. If you notice symptoms of a herniated C4/C5 or C5/C6 disc, you may have to request additional testing to confirm.

Seek Help Following an Accident

It’s always best to get help immediately following a collision. That includes seeking medical attention as well as contacting a qualified law firm to protect your interests. 

Early diagnosis of a spinal injury like a herniated disc could help to ensure that you receive swift medical attention, avoid further damage, and that you are able to seek proper compensation for your injuries and medical costs.

Contact the Chicago Car Accident Law Firm of Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys for Help Today

For more information, please contact the experienced Chicago car accident lawyers at Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys today. We offer free consultations.

We proudly serve Cook County, Will County, Kendall County, and its surrounding areas:

Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys – Chicago Office
10 S La Salle St STE 1230, Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 726-1616

Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys – Joliet Office
195 Springfield Ave, Joliet, IL 60435
(815) 726-1616