If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s common to have sustained facet joint injuries. Injuries to your cervical or lumbar facet joints are extremely vulnerable to damage and it is a leading cause for chronic pain that lasts more than three months. It is true that the most benign car accident can result in the victim suffering from debilitating health effects from facet joint injuries. These can occur in the back and neck, commonly referred to as whiplash. Many people don’t realize how serious whiplash injuries can be.

What are Facet Joints

Facet joints are the joints in your spine that make your neck and back flexible. Facet joints are the bony help to enable you to bend and twist and serve to stabilize your spine. Facet joints can be identified by bony protrusions that are above and below your vertebrae and have healthy cartilage that prevents your vertebra from grinding against one another. The nerves of your spinal cord exit through facet joints, thus when you have a facet injury, these nerves will send a signal to you letting you know when one of these facet joints have been injured.

Whiplash is a Facet Joint Injury

Many people don’t understand how serious whiplash can be. Low impact car accidents can cause facet damage in a person’s neck causing debilitating and chronic pain. Some accident victims who have suffered facet joint injuries to the neck will suddenly develop cervicogenic headaches which alone can be debilitating and chronic. Other medical problems such as spondylolisthesis can also occur as a direct result of sustaining a facet injury Spondylolisthesis is the actual slipping forward of the vertebral body, causing pinched nerves and pain. This is common in the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebra or at the last lumbar vertebra or the sacrum where the stress is heaviest. When you’ve been injured and facet injuries result in cervical spondylolisthesis, your injury will be measured by the degree of slippage in the vertebra in your neck with I being the least amount and V being the most severe.

When you’ve been in any car accident it’s important to seek the proper medical exam to check for injuries such as facet injuries or whiplash. Florida PIP law requires an individual claiming PIP benefits to “receive initial services and care” within 14 days after the motor vehicle accident.

It’s important that you seek medical care even if you’ve been in a minor car accident, especially those lower impact accidents that frequently cause whiplash. Being rear-ended is just one example. Facet joint injuries sustained in a car crash are usually in the cervical or lumbar area of your spine and symptoms of a facet injury can include any of the symptoms below. But those symptoms (as explained below) may not show up immediately.  If you are uncertain about seeking medical care after your accident, please reach out to us.

  • Lumbar or cervical pain that you didn’t have before.
  • Lumbar or cervical pain that gets worse or better with certain movements.
  • Tenderness to touch or trigger point tenderness
  • Loss of mobility, movement or “guarding”
  • Pain that worsens when leading backward and alleviated by leaning forward
  • If the facet injury is in the lower lumbar area, you can experience low back pain, burning, or dull radiating pain from back to buttocks and thigh.
  • If your cervical facet joint has been injured, you may experience pain in your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
  • Sudden onset of headaches may accompany neck pain as mentioned above.
  • A “double-crush” syndrome may occur causing pain in your wrist, fingers, arm similar to carpal tunnel pain.

It’s Not in Your Head

Facet joint injuries are real and the chronic back and neck problems that come with facet joint injuries or whiplash. Chronic, ongoing, and permanent damage to the neck and spine is not uncommon. If you were in a low impact or minor car accident, it’s common for insurance companies and others to understand how dislocated joints can cause neurological damage. Your accident may have seemed benign but the pain and suffering can be chronic. Sudden onset of headaches and other symptoms must be taken seriously.

The problem with facet joint injury is that it can take time for the onset of symptoms and it can be difficult to diagnose. Even if a car accident seems minor, injuries sustained can cause neurological damage when facet joints are dislocated and soft tissue surrounding the joints swell up and place pressure on adjacent nerves. Physicians may not diagnose a facet joint injury immediately or even for several days or more after an accident which can be even more challenging. It’s crucial that your personal injury attorney understands how to navigate your case making sure you receive the proper tests and care and negotiate with your insurance carrier and protect your rights and your health.

Whiplash Attorney New Port Richey, Hudson, Spring Hill, Brooksville, Inverness

Wendy Doyle-Palumbo is a car accident attorney representing the injured in Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, and Pinellas County, FL. Please contact us for a free consultation. Remember when hiring a personal injury attorney to hire a trial lawyer and experienced Tampa Bay car accident Lawyer and PIP and Med Pay Attorney.