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What Is a Vertebral Artery Dissection?

Colburn Law

A stroke is one of the most serious medical conditions that a person can develop. These life-threatening medical events can be caused by several factors, including blocked arteries and leaking blood vessels. 

Vertebral artery dissections are a rare cause of strokes but are common among stroke patients who are relatively young and healthy. A torn vertebral artery can cut off the blood supply to the brain—resulting in dangerous complications that could radically change your life.

What Causes a Vertebral Artery Dissection?

What Causes a Vertebral Artery Dissection?

The vertebral arteries are blood vessels that are located in the back of your neck near the spine. These arteries are responsible for delivering blood and oxygen to the brain and the spine, which are critical structures in the human body. 

A dissection occurs when one or more of the tissues of the vertebral artery are torn, causing blood to enter the arterial wall. Over time, a clot forms and blocks blood flow to the brain and the spine.

Vertebral artery dissections usually occur after a person sustains blunt force trauma to the neck. There are many accidents where this could happen, such as the following:

Symptoms and Signs of Vertebral Artery Dissection

Vertebral artery dissections may not show any symptoms at first. As the blood clot forms and disrupts blood flow to the brain, or the artery ruptures, you may start to experience some signs of a stroke.

It is critical to seek emergency medical care as soon as possible if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Neck pain, usually in one side of the neck
  • Difficulty with balance or coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of hearing
  • Severe headaches
  • Slurred speech
  • Vertigo
  • Double vision

What Is the Treatment for Vertebral Artery Dissection?

If your doctor can catch the vertebral artery dissection before it leads to a stroke, he or she may prescribe some blood-thinning medications to reduce the risk of a blood clot. The dissection will likely heal on its own. If you do suffer a stroke, you will require emergency interventions like surgery, angioplasty, and endovascular embolization.

You will need to attend regular doctor’s appointments to monitor your progress and treat potential complications. You will need to avoid overexertion and other activities that could cause another dissection or increase your risk of a stroke. If you do suffer a stroke, you may experience lasting brain damage and other complications that require therapy and treatment.

Holding Someone Accountable for Vertebral Artery Dissection

A vertebral artery dissection can be a scary experience and may have a lasting impact on your life. If someone else was responsible for your injury, you deserve justice. Depending on the circumstances, you could pursue an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.

For example, if you are injured in a car accident after a driver runs a red light, you could file a claim against that driver. If you are injured by a chiropractor who harms you during treatment, you could hold that professional accountable in a lawsuit.

In these situations, you need an attorney who can fight for your rights and help you recover the compensation that you deserve. Schedule a free consultation with a Washington personal injury lawyer to discuss your next steps.