The body experiences extreme forces during a car accident. A sudden change in momentum or a violent blow to the back can damage vertebrae, discs, tissue, and other spinal cord parts. A spinal cord injury is often severe and painful. It can lead to debilitating symptoms and require ongoing treatment to heal.
Here you will learn about the types of spinal cord injuries and the symptoms you should look for after a car accident.
Common Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a tube-like band of tissue running from the brainstem to base of the lower back. Its primary purpose is to transmit signals from the brain to the rest of the body. The nerve messages serve these three functions:
- Manage reflexes – The spinal cord controls some involuntary movements without requiring the brain’s involvement.
- Control body functions and movements – The brain signals other parts of the body to control movement. They also direct involuntary functions such as heartbeat, bladder function, and breathing rate.
- Report senses to the brain – Your brain records and processes sensations, such as pain, with the help of signals from other parts of the body.
Damage to any part of the spinal cord can cause a spinal cord injury. The most common types of spinal cord injuries include:
- Ruptured or herniated disc – The spine consists of a series of vertebrae stretching from the base of the skull to the tailbone. A round cushion called a disc sits between each pair of vertebrae. A disc is herniated when it has a leak or tear. Leaked material from the disc can press on nearby nerves, causing back pain, muscle weakness, and numbness or tingling in the legs or feet.
- Spinal stenosis – Spinal stenosis occurs when the spaces in the spinal canal narrows, placing pressure on the nerves and spinal column. Although some people are born with this medical condition, it can result from trauma to the spine during a car crash.
- Fractured vertebrae – A spinal fracture is a fracture or dislocation of the vertebrae. It can occur anywhere along the spine and compress or pinch the spinal cord. The violent impact of a car accident injures the spine, leading to a fracture.
- Spondylolysis – Spondylolysis is a stress fracture of the thin bone segment that joins two vertebrae in the lumbar spine. The vertebrae can weaken due to repetitive motion or a medical condition, making a person more vulnerable to developing spondylolysis.
- Paraplegia – Paraplegia is paralysis from the waist down. An injury to the spinal cord can cause partial or total loss of sensation and movement in the lower half of the body.
- Quadriplegia – Quadriplegia is paralysis of the body and limbs from the neck down. It affects a person’s ability to move limbs and control certain automatic processes.
Common Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury
The symptoms of a spinal cord injury depend on the type of injury and location of the affected part of the body. The most common spinal cord injury symptoms include:
- Unusual lumps along the spine
- Decreased sensation in the legs or arms
- Trouble breathing
- Weakness in the legs or arms
- Severe pressure or pain in the back or neck
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
Speak to an Experienced Fairfax Car Accident Lawyer
A seatbelt keeps you restrained in your seat while minimizing the forces placed on your body during a collision. You should always wear your seatbelt to reduce the risk of injury.
If you sustained a spinal cord injury in a car crash due to someone else’s negligence, call Whitestone Young, PC, at 703-591-0200 for a free consultation today. We can protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.