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Can you have a broken neck and not know about it?

Motor vehicle accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries, such as a broken neck. In many cases, these injuries are immediately apparent and the person gets treatment. But is it possible for you to get seriously injured and not find out about it for days, weeks or even months?

It absolutely is. That's exactly what happened to one man who thought he received a concussion in a boating accident.

Repeated incidents

Part of the problem is that the young man suffered repeated head injuries while on the boat. All told, he struck his head five times. At least two of those incidents were enough to give him a concussion.

At the time, that's all he thought it was. He assumed it would take a little over a month to recover. However, after one of these incidents, his symptoms just got worse. This went on for five weeks, and it even led to a hypersensitivity of the nerves called allodynia. This led to constant headaches and frequent pain whenever someone touched him.

To get help, he went to sports medicine doctors, pain management doctors, neurologists and additional head and brain specialists. They could not figure out why he wasn't recovering properly. Some told him he may have to deal with these symptoms for life, even though he was only in high school.

The real cause

The breakthrough in the case came when a doctor recommended doing neck X-rays. It had then been six months of symptoms with no solutions and doctors were trying everything they could.

When they got the results back, they found out that he'd broken his neck in one of those accidents. His C6 vertebrae showed signs of a compression fracture. As a result, it pushed his neck too far to the right, where it then put too much pressure on the C2 vertebrae and the occiput.

Both of these areas -- the higher vertebrae and the back of his skull -- are often linked to nerve pain and headaches.

That was why doctors could not treat the concussions properly, and it's why he was not getting better even when allowing himself to heal. They just did not understand the true scope of the injury and no one thought to look for it for six months.

After an accident

If you get in a car accident, it is important to keep this story in mind. After all, you may have a right to financial compensation for injuries suffered in the crash, and you need to know exactly what those injuries look like to properly determine what this compensation should cover. Remember that all injuries are not immediately obvious and symptoms that do not fit your diagnosis could indicate that something is seriously wrong.

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