types of spinal cord injuries

Common Spinal Injuries From Car Accidents

A spinal cord injury is an injury that hinders the transferal of information between your brain and the rest of your body. The brain can’t communicate with the rest of the body.

There are two main types of spinal cord injuries. These are incomplete and complete spinal cord injuries. 

Incomplete spinal cord injury means it has been bruised or damaged. Ordinary causes are extra pressure on the spinal cord, pieces of bone, or other things that become stuck in the spinal cord. 

If the spinal cord is permanently damaged it’s called paraplegia and the person will be unable to move or use their arms and legs. 

As medical knowledge, research and alternative treatments improve these injuries account for less than 35% of spinal cord injuries, with that percentage dropping each year.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

More than 40% of all spinal cord injuries are caused by car accidents. When an accident involves the cervical spine, lumbar spine, or thoracic spine it can result in a spinal cord injury. This damage may cause the person to become paralyzed. 

Typical Injuries brought about by Motor Vehicle Accidents include:

The most frequent injury from a car accident is whiplash, particularly if you have been rear-ended.

An injury occurs when the neck rapidly jerks forward and then backward in a single swift motion.

Herniated Disc

The vertebrae on the spinal cushion protect the discs on the spinal cushion, which serve as a shock absorber to safeguard the spinal cord’s center. A delicate, jelly-like substance makes up the center of the spinal column. When this center spills out through a ruptured disc

Sports Injuries

Common sporting activities including football, diving, wrestling, snowboarding, ice hockey, baseball, skiing, and rugby are the main causes of spinal cord trauma. Playing any sport involves some risk of injury. 

Sports-related injuries make up 7% of all spinal cord injuries. The range of wounds includes intervertebral disk herniation, unstable fractures, and cervical cord neurapraxia. The C5–C6 level has the most severe type. 

Symptoms of Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury After a Car Accident


A complete spinal cord injury is the total divide or condensing of the spinal cord; this type of spinal cord injury can result in a wide range of problems.

People with a spinal cord injury may experience the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty with breathing
  • Loss of sensation below the point of injury
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of sensory function
  • Weakness and paralysis in the legs and arms
  • Respiratory difficulty
  • Nerve damage 
  • Blood pressure complications
  • Unable to walk and limited motor functions
  • Unstable blood pressure and blood clots.

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries from Car Accidents

Most car accidents involve two or more cars that crash into each other. The sudden impact causes an extreme force that hurts the driver’s neck and back.

spinal cord injuries types

The symptoms and treatment plans will depend on various factors. The location of the injury, the severity of the injury, and the extent of damage will determine how the injury will be treated.

What are Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries?

If you suffer from an incomplete spinal injury you may still have some feeling and sensation as well as movement at or below where the injury occurred. 

What is Acute Spinal Cord Injury?

A violent injury that tears or bruises the spinal cord causes an acute spinal cord injury. Extreme back pain, body weakness, or paralysis are typical outcomes of this kind of damage.

Sensation loss or tingling in the hands, feet, fingers, or toes. Loss of bladder and bowel control are other potential effects for people with spinal cord.

What is Complete Spinal Cord Injury?

If you suffer from a complete spinal cord injury you won’t be able to move or feel anything at or below the injury site. 

Lumbar or Thoracic Vertebrae Fractures

The thoracic spine is located in the upper and middle part of the back, its function is to provide stability and help keep your body in an upright position. A thoracic spine fracture happens when a bone in the spine collapses. Acute lumbar and thoracic fractures may require surgery.  

Herniated Discs

A herniated disc more commonly referred to as a slipped disk occurs when a part of the disc is forced through a weakened area of the spine.

this type of injury usually affects the lower back. This can result in sharp pains or complete numbness.

A herniated disk will heal over time and in most cases won’t require surgery but physical therapy may be useful.


This is a condition where one of the bones or vertebra slips forward. It is usually caused as a result of abnormal wear on the cartilage.

This condition can be a direct result of an accident, tumor, arthritis, or bone abnormality. 

Facet Joint Injuries

This type of injury places an uneven amount of pressure along the spine. This speeds up the wear and tear process and causes smooth flexible cartilage caps to become rough and irritated which results in degeneration. 

Discogenic Pain

Lower back pain is caused by damaged intervertebral discs, particularly a damaged vertebral disc.

The disk will slowly start to fall apart over time causing chronic pain. There is no cure, but using anti-inflammatories, ice, and heat packs, or spinal cord injury treatment can help with pain management. 

Degenerative Spinal Disorders

This involves the gradual loss of the normal function of the spine that occurs over time. Pressure on the spinal cord and roots causes degeneration. The pain can range from a slight niggle to full-blown disabling. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Spinal Cord Injuries from Car Accidents

spinal cord injuries faqs

How Long can Back Pain last after an Accident?

If the accident doesn’t result in a spinal cord injury, the pain will usually subside within six weeks. The affected tissue will need time to recover and let the inflammation subside. It’s important to go for an x-ray to rule out permanent damage.

Why do injuries to the Brain or Spinal Cord have challenges healing?

The spinal cord forms part of your central nervous system. If you sustain a typical injury your skin will develop new cells and use them to heal the wound. Unfortunately, the cells in your brain called neurons, can’t regenerate. At the site of injury, the link between the body and nerve cells in the brain is severed. The majority of the time, this results in motor function loss.

What activity causes the most Spinal Cord Injuries?

The leading cause of spinal cord injuries is auto and motorcycle accidents. People over the age of 65 often experience spinal cord injuries as a result of falling. Other common causes include acts of violence, gunshot wounds, stabbings, and industrial accidents. At the same time, sports injuries and diseases make up the rest. 

How We Can Help You!

Coluccio Law has dedicated over 30 years to personal injury and providing a positive change in people’s lives. Kevin Coluccio has earned over $450 million for injury and death claims. 

Call us right away for a free quotation if you’re in an accident that wasn’t your fault. After your accident, let us help you enhance your quality of life.

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