Your neck consists of the windpipe, esophagus, blood vessels, and several interconnected physical structures — vertebrae, spinal cord, nerves, spinal discs, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Damage to any one of these areas is cause for concern.
Trauma is the main cause of neck injuries. Such trauma can result from:
- Accidents sustained during work, sports, or leisure activities
- Diving into shallow water
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Physical assault
Traumatic neck injuries can affect any of the neck tissues, and lead to serious, life-threatening complications — such as paralysis. You should always have a neck injury examined by a medical professional.
Our knowledgeable health experts are here to help you through unexpected medical conditions, such as neck injuries, in Northern California. If you sustained a neck injury, visit a Dignity Health North State emergency room for evaluation as soon as possible. Use our InQuicker tool to select an estimated arrival time.
Identifying the Symptoms of Neck Injuries
Different types of neck injuries cause different symptoms. Some symptoms appear immediately, while others may not be noticed until some time later. Neck injury symptoms include:
- Inability to move your neck through its full range of motion
- Tingling and numbness that can spread to the arms and shoulders
- Neck pain, which may become worse with movement
- Fatigue, weakness, or difficulty concentrating
- Sleep problems
- Bleeding or bruising
- Sore throat
Call 911 or seek emergency care for these symptoms:
- Severe headache or bleeding
- Breathing problems
- Swelling or deformity
- Loss of bladder control
- Unconsciousness (even if brief), or unresponsiveness
What to Do in Case of Neck Injury
Treatment of neck injuries depends on the exact type and severity of the trauma. Superficial wounds and minor injuries typically can be handled at home.
For severe neck injuries, however, call 911 and follow these instructions for first aid:
- Do not move the person unless absolutely necessary, and do not try to straighten the neck. Do not pick up a child. Hold the head in the position you found it, and help the person remain still until medical help arrives.
- Do not remove a helmet.
- Monitor pulse and breathing. Begin CPR if necessary.
- Apply direct pressure to a bleeding wound, but do not change the position of the neck.
- Do not attempt to remove any object lodged in the wound.
To avoid neck injuries, use your seat belt, do not dive into shallow water (or water of unknown depth), and do not lead with your head when playing sports.
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Dignity Health provides personal emergency services 24 hours a day, seven days a week for neck injuries, in Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, and Redding, CA.