6 Common Spinal Injuries From Car Accidents
Each year, up to 500,000 people suffer from spinal cord injuries. One of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries is car accidents. These injuries result in several challenges in someone’s day-to-day, such as pain, difficulties with movement, and even depression and anxiety.
If you’re involved in a car accident, there are many types of injuries to the spine you may experience. In this article, we’ll discuss some of these common spinal injuries.
1. Herniated Disc
A disc refers to the rubbery disc that rests between the spinal bones. A herniated disc is also known as a ruptured or bulging disc. These discs act as a shock-absorbent for the spine.
Herniated discs occur when something causes the inner substance to slip through the cracks, creating pressure on spinal nerves. This is often caused by car accidents, age, repetitive motions, strain from lifting, or extra weight.
2. Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis occurs when the openings between your spine begin to narrow. The narrowing eliminates space for your nerves, and over time, your spinal cord may become compressed.
Compression in your spinal cord leads to feelings of numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness. Symptoms often vary depending on how much space it eliminates. Severe cases risk permanent numbness or paralysis.
Spinal stenosis is a result of conditions like spinal osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease. Car accidents or other incidents can also lead to spinal stenosis if the impact is enough to result in structural changes in your spine.
Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries. It is an injury to the neck from a sudden forceful movement forwards or backward. When your neck experiences these sudden movements, the soft tissues extend beyond their usual range of motion, causing them to tear.
Though this is often considered a minor injury, more severe cases experience long-term effects. Some people with whiplash suffer long-term pain and headaches.
4. Facet Joint Injuries
The facet joint connects two or more joints in the body to promote healthy movement. In the spine, they connect each vertebrate.
Experiencing a facet joint injury is similar to the pain someone with arthritis may feel in their neck and back. Pain occurs when there are changes to the joints between the spinal bones, often resulting in inflammation that causes nerve pain.
Some common types of facet joint injuries are:
- Osteoarthritis of the spine
- Facet joint hypertrophy
An injured spine from a spinal facet injury can’t be reversed. There are several methods doctors use to help individuals manage their pain. Methods include physical therapy, medication, surgery, or injections.
5. Lumbar Sprains
Lumbar sprains are injuries to the lower back where one or more ligaments are stretched or torn. The sprains occur from sudden injuries like auto accident injuries or gradual overuse.
Some people are more at risk for these sprains, such as those with poor posture, high-intensity activities, or carrying excess weight. Those suffering from lumbar sprains often have trouble with their mobility.
6. Spinal Fractures
Spinal fractures are one of the more serious injuries you might encounter after an auto accident. Spinal fractures occur when force is applied to the spine and the bones in your vertebrate can’t handle the load.
Force applied to the spine leads to either compression fractures or burst fractures. A compression fracture is when the vertebral bone decreases 15-20% in height due to damage. A burst fracture is when the entire vertebral column snaps.
Unless treated properly, these injuries lead to long-term problems. Common problems are severe pain or a hunched posture.
Signs of Spinal Injury
If you’re in a car accident, you should always be aware of the potential signs of spinal injury. Some spinal injuries are severe and can have life-long consequences unless treated immediately.
Signs of a spinal injury include loss of movement, the ability to feel touch or temperature, spasms, pain, numbness, increased reflexes, and loss of bladder control. If you are experiencing any of these problems, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
If you have any of the following emergency symptoms, seek help right away:
- Paralysis in any part of your body
- Difficulty balancing/walking
- Tingling or loss of sensation in hands, feet, or toes
- Odd positioning of your neck and back
- Difficulty breathing
Serious spinal injuries are not always obvious. If you suspect the possibility of a neck or back injury, it’s best not to move until help arrives. Otherwise, you risk further damage.
How Are Spinal Injuries Diagnosed?
For the initial treatment of a potential spinal injury, doctors will test your basic sensory functions, muscle movement, and reflexes.
There are several diagnostic tools to identify whether someone has a spinal injury. These tests include X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and complete neurological exams. Neurological exams are commonly used because the spine is closely related to brain function.
These tests allow doctors to take a closer look at your spinal cord and identify any abnormalities. They’ll also identify the exact location of the injury to develop the best treatment plan.
Seek Help With Accident-Related Spinal Injuries
If you or someone close to you is dealing with spinal injuries from a car accident, don’t hesitate to seek help. Accidents involving any form of negligence may be entitled to compensation.
Hiring an accident lawyer allows you to explore your options when the other party is responsible for your injuries and help mitigate the stress of ongoing medical bills.
For more information, contact Alpha Accident Lawyers today.