Your spine is made to move and withstands a lot in your day-to-day activities, but it takes surprisingly little to sustain a spinal column injury in a car accident. Since 2015, car accidents have caused 38.6% of all spinal cord injuries, a higher rate than any other cause.
Though vehicle safety improvements over the years reduce the likelihood of a fatal spinal cord injury, if you sustain damage along the column, it may lead to long-term or permanent medical issues. What types of injuries occur from a crash?
The most common spinal column injury
Whiplash is one of the most common traumas to the spinal column and can occur from a low-impact collision. This injury can occur at speeds as low as 10 m.p.h. One study found that a 5-m.p.h. speed difference is enough to cause whiplash.
If you are in a car accident, you may not know immediately that you sustained this type of trauma, making it critical to visit the doctor as soon as possible after the crash. Left untreated, whiplash can cause severe damage and pain that lasts for years.
Other common spinal column injuries
Though damage to the cervical vertebrae and surrounding soft tissues occur more often than any other spinal cord injury, different types of damage also occur, including:
- Herniated or bulging discs
- Ruptured discs
- Spinal fractures
- Compressed or pinched nerves
More serious accidents may lead to severe trauma, resulting in various degrees of paralysis.
Your body has coping mechanisms for trauma that may lead you to believe you did not sustain any injuries from a car crash. However, it’s still a good idea to see your physician to ensure there are no hidden spinal column injuries. The longer you wait, the higher your risk for long-term damage.