The Most Common Spinal Injuries Caused by Auto Accidents

Posted on May 31st, 2018
By Steven Gursten

Common Spinal Injuries

Vehicle accidents can cause many types of bodily injury, and they are the leading cause of spinal injuries. When you are in an accident, you may know immediately if your back or spinal cord has been injured. However, in some cases, the full extent of your injuries may not be immediately apparent.

Neck and back injuries are very common for people who have been in an accident. It’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms of spinal injuries in yourself or in other people so that you know what to do if they happen.

What to Do After an Accident

If you have been in a minor accident, injuries may not be apparent right away. It’s a good idea to be examined by a doctor, even if the accident occurred at low speed and you feel like you haven’t been hurt. This is especially important if you start to experience pain a day or two after the accident.

On the other hand, if you have been obviously jolted by an accident, don’t try to move until medical help arrives. Injuries may be worsened if you try to move or if a person without medical training attempts to move you.


One of the most common injuries caused by auto accidents is whiplash, which usually occurs when your car is hit from behind. This causes your head to jolt forward and then snap backwards. While it’s typically not a life-threatening injury, it can result in symptoms that may linger for a long period of time, such as pain, stiffness, headaches and dizziness.

Unless there is evidence of abnormal spine alignment, physical therapy or a range of motion exercises will probably be recommended fairly soon after the accident rather than immobilization.

Spinal Fracture

After a car accident, spinal fractures may happen because the impact causes the upper body to be jolted forward while the lower body is held in place by a seatbelt. When vertebrae move out of place, they may cause spinal cord injury.

If your spine is fractured, you will likely experience moderate to severe back pain, usually in the middle or lower back. If the spinal cord has been injured, there may be numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation. At the scene of the accident, first responders will immobilize an injured person with a backboard before transporting them to a hospital.

Disc Herniation

The discs between the vertebrae can shift out of place after sudden impact. When this happens, it’s called a herniated disc, also known as a ruptured disc or a slipped disc.

If a disc shifts out of place, it is no longer cushioning the vertebrae. Surrounding nerves are irritated, resulting in intense pain. You may also experience pain in an arm or leg, as well as tingling, numbness, or weakness. If the disc has been severely herniated, you may need surgery.

Spinal Cord Injury

Car accidents can cause injury to the actual spinal cord. It can be bruised, lacerated or severed depending on the severity of the impact. Bruising can cause significant pain but is not a permanent injury. If your spinal cord is severed or lacerated, you will likely experience permanent paralysis.

Earning Compensation for a Spinal Injury

If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be able to receive financial compensation. Contact Taos Injury Lawyers using the form on this page, and one of our attorneys will be in touch soon to discuss your situation and what we can do to help.

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