Since 2015, 38.6% of spinal injuries are a result of auto accidents as reported by the National Spinal Cord Injury Database. The average number each year of new cases is about 17,810.
The traumatic nature of car accidents is why they are a leading cause of spinal injuries. These medical conditions, which range in severity and type, can have profound and lasting effects on a person’s health and well-being.
Spinal fractures occur when the bones in the spine break due to the impact of the collision. The force generated during a car crash can be immense, causing compression or flexion of the spine, leading to fractures. They can vary in severity, from hairline cracks to more severe breaks that may require surgical intervention.
Many of the Injuries occur to the thoracic spine (upper back) and lumbar spine (lower back). The thoracic spine is relatively stable due to its connection with the ribcage, but severe accidents can still cause fractures. Lumbar injuries are common because the lower back is highly susceptible to the forces generated during a collision.
The spine is a series of vertebrae with cushion-like discs between them that act as shock absorbers. When a car accident occurs, the impact can cause these discs to rupture or shift out of their normal position. This can lead to intense pain, tingling and numbness in various parts of the body, depending on the location of the herniated disc along the spine.
The symptoms of spinal injuries from a car accident may not be immediately apparent. In some cases, pain or discomfort may surface days or even weeks after the accident. It is important to seek medical attention promptly, as untreated spinal injuries can worsen over time and lead to chronic pain or even long-term disabilities.