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Symptoms and Signs of Neck and Back Injuries

Doctor's Notes on Neck and Back Injuries

Injuries (trauma) to the neck and back may cause severe and debilitating pain. The spinal column has many ligaments and muscles that protect the spinal cord and assist in movement. Injury to any part of the spinal column could lead to spinal cord injury and permanent disability. If trauma to the neck or back occurs, the patient should avoid movement and the neck and back should be splinted until medically evaluated.

Symptoms of neck and back injuries include pain, tenderness, and stiffness at the site of the injury. There may be muscle spasms on either side of the spinal column immediately following the injury and up to 24 hours later. Other symptoms of neck and back injuries that may indicate a more serious injury include numbness, tingling, or paralysis of an extremity. If a penetrating injury to the neck occurs, immediate treatment is needed. The penetrating object should be left in place and only medical personnel should remove it to avoid possible damage to the spinal cord.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.