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Cases: Answers to the Frequently Asked Questions

Author / Coordinator: Information
March 2007

Question: What is Cervical Sprain/Strain?

Answer: Cervical Sprain/Strain refers to an injury to the neck, head, and shoulders after being subjected to a snapping motion, either forward and back or side to side. These neck injuries are frequently caused by traffic accidents.

Question: What are other names for Cervical Sprain/Strain?

Answer: C-spine sprain, C-spine strain, acceleration/deceleration injury, acceleration-deceleration injury, cervical myofascial pain, cervical soft tissue pain syndrome, cervical sprain, cervicobrachial strain, chronic cervical sprain, chronic cervical strain, chronic neck sprain, chronic neck strain, extension/flexion injury, flexion/extension injury, hyperflexion/hyperextension injury, neck/shoulder girdle soft tissue injury, neck sprain, neck strain and regional soft tissue pain syndrome, whiplash.

Question: Why is Cervical Sprain/Strain so common in car accidents?

Answer:  The main reason is that a vehicle headrest on the back of a seat limits the range of extension in your neck.

Question: What are the symptoms of a Cervical Sprain/Strain injury?


Injuries to the head and neck
Brain injuries (generally minor brain injuries or concussions)
Spinal and Clavicle fractures
Herniations of the spinal disks
Soft tissue injuries
Back injuries
Internal injuries – sometimes caused by lap belts Bruises
Abrasions (scrapes) – sometimes from the shoulder restraint
Jaw injuries
Chest injuries

Question: I was in a car accident this morning, but I don�ft have any discomfort. Can I assume I don�ft have Cervical Sprain/Strain?

Answer:  No, immediately after a Cervical Sprain/Strain accident victim are often unaware that they have been injured. You may be experiencing only slight discomfort and/or stiffness in your neck. Cervical Sprain/Strain usually doesn�ft become apparent for at least 12 to 24 hours after the accident.

Question: If Cervical Sprain/Strain is usually only an injury to the soft tissues, why is my doctor taking an x-ray?

Answer: This is done to rule out more serious spinal injuries. Injuries such as Cervical Sprain/Strain are not usually seen on an x-ray.

Question: How long does a typical Cervical Sprain/Strain injuries take to heal?

Answer:  It depends. First of all, there is no such thing as a typical Cervical Sprain/Strain injury. There are so many different variables (see risk factors, below) involved in a collision that it’s not uncommon for two people to be in the same vehicle, and suffer different degrees of injury. Therefore, the healing time also varies greatly. Some people who have experienced a rear-end collision may suffer symptoms for just a few hours. Most people seem to recover in around six weeks. But the medical literature consistently shows that a significant percentage of people — around one out of three experience some kind of long-term symptoms after a crash.

Question: Can I do anything to prevent this type of injury?

Answer: It is not completely avoidable, but checking your head restraint is a good precautionary measure. Head restraints should be high enough so that they’re directly behind and very close to the back of your head. Some vehicles have headrests that are very low and this could make you susceptible to this type of injury.

Question: Should I take the settlement my insurance company is offering me?

Answer:  You should not take any settlements offered by an insurance company without first speaking with an experienced Minnesota auto accident lawyer. Insurance companies typically offer a minimal amount of money in return for your signature stating that you will not sue them. Never take an insurance check without first consulting an attorney.

Question: I did not feel pain at the scene and refused medical treatment. Now, a few days later I am in pain. What should I do?

Answer:  You should immediately consult your medical provider regarding any pain, discomfort, or possible injuries from a car accident, even if you think they may be only minor injuries. Even if you did not complain of injuries at the scene of the car accident, you may be entitled to payment of your medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, and emotional distress due to personal injuries. You should consult an experienced Minnesota car accident attorney to discuss whether you need representation on your claim.

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