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Common Spinal Cord Injuries Following a Car Accident

November 18, 2021 Spinal Cord Injury

Car accidents are a leading cause of spinal cord injuries across the United States. However, not every spinal cord injury is exactly alike. Here, we want to discuss the most common types of spinal cord injuries that occur as a result of vehicle accidents. These injuries often lead to significant medical bills and lifelong disabilities for those involved.

The Mechanisms of a Car Accident Lead to Spinal Cord Trauma

When we examine data available from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), we can see that around 18,000 individuals sustain spinal cord injuries each year across this country. The data also shows us that the leading cause of spinal cord trauma each year is vehicle accidents.

When a vehicle accident occurs, the mechanisms of the incident often mean that those inside the car sustain some sort of spinal cord trauma. In some cases, a spinal cord injury is relatively minor, but there are times when spinal cord injuries are incredibly severe and lead to permanent paralysis.

One of the relatively minor spinal cord injuries that can occur in a vehicle accident is called whiplash, which occurs when the body is rapidly jerked backward and forward quickly, which causes the upper neck and head to “whip.” This type of injury can lead to damage to the upper part of our spine, muscles, and tendons, and lead to both short- and long-term pain and suffering for drivers and passengers.

More Severe Spinal Cord Trauma

There are times when more severe spinal cord injuries occur as a result of car accidents. There are three major areas of the spinal cord:

  1. Lumbar spine, which is the lower back
  2. Thoracic spine, which is the mid back
  3. Cervical spine, which is the upper back and neck

Typically, when a severe injury happens higher up on a person’s spine (cervical spine), they can suffer from complete paralysis, which is known as quadriplegia or tetraplegia. Injuries that occur lower on the spine may result in paraplegia, which is the paralysis of the lower limbs. Some of the most common spinal cord injuries that can occur anywhere along the spine include:

  • Fractured vertebrae. There are 33 vertebrae in the spine, and when any one of these fractures, it can pinch or compress the spinal cord housed within the spine.
  • Herniated or ruptured discs. The discs that rest in between each vertebrae and are made up of soft jelly-like structures with a tough cartilage exterior. Anytime there is significant or sudden force applied to the spine, the soft inner part of these discs could tear through the tough perimeter.
  • Pinched nerves. The nerves inside the spinal cord send signals to all areas of the body. Anytime there is a bulged or herniated disc that presses on the nerves, this could lead to pain, tingling, or numbness in muscles.
  • Bulging discs. When a person is in a vehicle accident, their body could whip back and forth, and this sudden force can cause a disc to protrude out of its natural alignment in the spine. This is known as a bulging disc.
  • Spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis occurs when the space is inside the spinal canal begins to narrow. This puts pressure on the spinal column in the nerves throughout the spine. Some people are born with spinal stenosis, but others can develop this condition following severe spinal cord trauma.

Consult an Experienced Spinal Cord Injury Attorney For Helpactors That Affect the Value of Your Personal Injury Settlement

If you or somebody you love has sustained a spinal cord injury caused by the actions of another driver, you need to speak to a San Diego spinal cord injury attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you walk through the steps towards recovering full compensation for your losses.