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25+ Year Accident Injury - present effects?

Aviatrix36440Aviatrix36440 Posts: 5,904
Ladies and gents; those that are a bit long in the tooth, I have a question for you? I am wondering if any of you guys had injuries that affected your back/neck that were approximately 25 years ago - and now have problems in your neck/back in the same area, and now your doctor tells you..."No, that was too long ago, that is not what is causing your problems now."

Flash back: In 1984 I ran out of altitude, ideas and rotor speed at the wrong time and crashed my helicopter - actually I was giving a guy his Flight Instructor checkride when the engine failed, and I tried to save it (us) with less impact damage. We hit vertically at around 4.5G's, rotated sideways, and then where spun around about 270 degrees rapidly. No CT or MRI back then, so just X-ray. Diagnosis then: severely sprained neck, upper back and lower back. Sent home (no meds back then really) for 2 weeks of rest.

Was good for about 3 months, then my mid back was so bad I couldn't even change the radio in my car! My lower back was so painful I couldn't bend over. My neck - turning was a killer. I ended up with a Neurologist who was also a practicing (new then) chiropractor. They ran x-rays and found I was starting "double scoliosis". He told me that he wasn't sure if he could fix it, but would try. Well, lucky for me, after like 15 treatments, I was "good as new?"

8 months later a drunk JERK rear ended me at a rate of around 50. Neck mainly the issue there. Rested for a week or so, but no residual pain that I remember. 2002, jerk hit me running a red - rear quarter hit on my car - twisting on the neck. 2 weeks rest, good to go again.

Present day.... Neck degenerating at a rapid rate. Pain and numbness now in the thoracic below (scuz...) the boobs. Lower back can't handle being bent over (for a picture - say a dishwasher, car engine) - I lock up or hurt like a mother ruckerbucker...numbness now in the feet when I sit or stand leaning slightly forward - better if I arch back. Considering EACH of these areas were creamed in that crash, and now I have these issues, coupled with my NS telling my husband and I that crash would have NO effect on me now.... Have any of you had this told to you? Or, better yet, did you have severe spinal trauma 20-25 years ago, and NOW having issues in the same areas?

Part of me is curious of course, but more so another part of me really wants to know if you have been "pooh poohed" about prior injury that has now become a spinal issue. Thanks in advance. :-)

PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.


  • I had a whiplash from a car accident and a skiing accident that caused a severe neck sprain. I was told these accidents contributed to the bone spurs in my neck. The car accident was in the 80's and the skiing in the 70's, many moons ago lol.

    Best to you,

  • marirlpn said:
    I had a whiplash from a car accident and a skiing accident that caused a severe neck sprain. I was told these accidents contributed to the bone spurs in my neck. The car accident was in the 80's and the skiing in the 70's, many moons ago lol.

    Best to you,

    Bone spurs, have plenty of those puppies! Didn't think of that! I know due to their size, bone spurs are pushing my disk at the C2/3 level to the right and causing it to bulge. My operative notes for both fusions talked of removing bone spurs. Interesting. Knowing that they are affecting my disk at C2/3, I wonder if they aren't big enough to push/redirect the disk if they can "weaken" the disk? Thanks Marianne, didn't think about that. Arthritis sure, but not spurs specifically. :-)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • by surgeons and my pcp that indeed accidents from a long time ago can and definitely do come back to bite you years later. I have been in a few car accidents, most recently 04 and I have developed DDD, arthritis and I'm sure other things that continue to cause me pain 24/7. Of course being 55 and postmenopausal doesn't help either.
  • My neck and shoulder issues stem from 2 accidents in the early 80's. Contrary to what you've experienced, I had the doc tell me that's what the cause was, since I blew them off thinking it had been too long since the incidents. He's whiplash specialist and see's a lot of whiplash injuries present themselves many years down the road.

  • Maddysmom,

    You actually bring up another HUGE point directly of importance to us women! Due to emergency surgery, I got thrown into "premi-menopause" 7 years ago (and have been told since it wasn't occurring via "a la natural" it could last 10-15 years!) and couple that with us as women - bone density. Hormone change and bone density puts us in the "more likely" to have issues end of the stick I think!

    I am beginning to think *maybe* my surgeon "thought" I was asking if the crash directly (like impact yesterday for example) caused my herniations? Hummm...When I see him next, I am going to reword the question to something like this then, as by the responses I am getting, I am not wrong, "wear and tear" DO catch up to us!!! Dr. Prxx, could the damage from crashing a helo, 2 car hits over the years "add" to what is causing my spine to start going bad like this? Maybe I did just ask it wrong?? Thanks maddysmom. :-)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Howdy C!!! :-)

    My surgeon is the Chief Of Neurosurgery, and his specialty is "working on and studying" of the spine. The cutting part that is! I am sure he is aware of the pitfalls of Whiplash, but the "prior affects to future result" not so sure. He is more in the "here and now" with what's in front of him, and if PT, shots, or surgery is the fix etc. I too like you C, blew off my prior "splats", as I thought, no way, way...way.. to long ago. Well, considering the 3 big areas I am starting to have big issues with are the same as the huge smack down from my heli crash...the neck slammed 2 more times (pain by the way was between 4-7)...makes perfect sense to me C. Thanks so much for your comments. *HUG* These post replies are making me psychologically more happy!!! My crappy spine is making more "logical" sense. :-)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • It is difficult when the docs we know and trust, can't seem to take in the "bigger picture" and quite refreshing when one actually does. I don't know if it's possible to predict whether or not a doc is going to have that type of insight or not.

    When I went in for my C2 Ganglionectomy, I had a pre-op consult with the Pain Management doc. He would be running my anesthesia and doing my rapid detox. During his patient interview, he asked if I had had any accidents in the past. I told him yes but that they had been years ago and I had been fine for many years. This guy was able to tell me what type of impact I had had based on my symptoms. I hadn't told him anything about the type of impact, but he was able to describe it perfectly.

    So whether or not the science is out there, that can be used to train docs to look for this, I don't know. It may have been that this guy just developed it through his own experience, based on what he had seen with his many patients. I would hope that they are looking more into this, since so many people do have accidents and years later develop problems because of it.

    So hang in there. I am a firm believer that things always work out the way that they are meant to. Just go with the flow and get things back in some sort of working order.

  • Howdy Ms C.. :-)

    It's funny because my surgeon *does* have some of that observational skill. On my last follow up visit for my C6/7 he finished the consult with "I noticed your walk is off. Are you having any discomfort or pain in your lower back or legs?" I re-told him of the vertical impact and side/twisting from the helicopter accident, and said back "yes actually. I can't be leaned over anything for more than 30 seconds, and every once in a while I turn this way instead of that way and hurt like crazy down to my feet. I also get occasional numbness in my feet!" We then did minor discussion ending with "once my neck is under control" he would get a full spine MRI or CT and see what is going on.

    So C, he has some of it, but I still don't think he "connects the dots" to injury's of yyyeeeaaarrrs ago. I will re-address this with him on my next visit. You guys (I know you all know this okay?) are great!!! Thanks again. :-)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I've never had any spine problems until May 08, when I was having some real nasty deep throbbing pain in the middle of my back. This was exactly one week before I was to have my yearly physical, but the pain was so bad I couldn't wait a whole week, so off to my PCP I went.

    I was having severe muscle spasms and over the next five months, starting having a rapid increase in other symptoms related to cervical problems. When all was said and done, I had bone spurs, herniated discs impinging on my spinal cord, stenosis and facet joint arthritis and swelling. And as you know, I'm now having lumbar issues.

    Anyway, my point is that I was in a bad car accident 28 years ago when we were hit head on by a drunk driver and I got thrown into the windshield. I was lucky that I didn't get my face ripped off when my head shattered the windshield and that my knees weren't broken when they dented the metal dashboard.

    I've never had any problems due to this accident before, but my PT, PCP and surgeon all believed that I damaged my neck during that accident and that over the years the domino effect happened where over time, one disc collapsed putting pressure on the next one, then that one collapsed, etc, etc. It's hard to believe that this was slowly happening of the course of so many years and I never knew it until it was so bad I had to have cervical surgery.

    So we all believe that you can indeed having spine problems stemming from a traumatic even that happened many years ago. There's nothing else that could've caused my problems, but I'm positive I exacerbated the problem with things I've done since.

    The old adage is so true - "If I knew then what I know now..."

  • Howdy Cath,

    The old adage is so true - "If I knew then what I know now..." <--- Ohhhhh how many times I have said this statement in the last few months! Nail on the head there Cath!!!

    Thanks very much for sharing your "trauma" event. Thank God you weren't hurt more. Wow...that jerk probably didn't suffer much did he? I find the drunk that hits you either dies in the accident, or comes away with almost no injury!!!

    I too am starting to what I call "cascade" in my spine. Documented via imaging, my neck, but my surgeon along with my lovely new symptoms even stated he can see issues coming up rapidly with my lower spine and mid back. I like you Cath, think now that it roots from my trauma (heli crash) and too, to be fair to my spine, some exacerbated from my activities over my life since. <sniff>

    What's the other phrase - one I learned here... "Once a spiney, always a spiney" Looks like you and I can attest to that!!! Thanks Cath!! I hope your lower back behaves!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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