Spinal Injuries After a Car Accident: Things to Look Out For

As roads get busier, the risk of car accidents increases and ultimately leads to more and more people getting effective by this unwanted tragedy. No one wants to be involved in an accident. Apart from being really hefty on the pocket, the health complications can also make your life miserable. Auto collisions, and the force that comes with them, can be hazardous to the neck and spine. Your body is vital to various functions to experience a full life.

However, it is known to be vulnerable to sudden motions and force. When a car comes in contact with the other, the passengers are jerked to move in an abrupt manner. You may hit different objects in the vehicle as they become dangerous projectiles. Apart from this, the force of inertia will also cause you to crash other people. There is a lot of damage that a person may suffer in a single accident.

Impact of Car Accidents On Spine

Auto crashes can be highly risky for the neck and back. These body parts are both vital to bodily function and vulnerable to rapid acceleration and force. Whether a vehicle collides with another, or something collides with a car, the opposing force’s inertia causes anything in the car, even a person, to shift towards that direction. We simply cannot rule out the fact that there is a lot of space for people. This force also exerts immense pressure on the spine.

Common Back Injuries in A Car Accident

The human spine is divided into three main sections

  • cervical, which is your neck region
  • thoracic, which is your upper back and middle region
  • lumbar, which is your lower back up till the pelvis

These three sections of the spine make your spinal cord which is responsible for securing and maintaining the nervous system. The spine is surrounded by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Any damage to these parts will result in visible damage to your body and, of course, cause some unwanted pain. During a car accident, you are more likely to experience these injuries in your spine:

Sprains in Lumbar Spine

Sprains in the lumbar area are often caused by extreme stress on the back. These injuries are not just common in an auto accident. As a matter of fact, many people who are used to lifting heavy objects daily or playing intense amounts of sports can also suffer from lumbar sprains. Auto injury doctors, however, mention this as a common injury in major accidents.

This injury causes the ligaments, joints, and tendons in the back to overstretch. You can get lumbar sprains due to excessive stretching. Although most of the time, a sprain may not appear in an imaging test, if you are experiencing sharp pains and soreness in your lower spine – there are chances to have it. For successful treatment of your lumbar spine, do not hesitate to share the symptoms with your doctor.

Spinal Stenosis

When the bone channel, that consists of your spinal cord and the nervous system starts to narrow down, we refer to it as a spinal stenosis. There are different causes of stenosis, and aging is still the number one reason. However, if you are in a car accident, the trauma may lead to ruptured discs. These discs may enter the spinal canal space, which ultimately puts an enormous amount of pressure on the nerves or spinal cord and causes severe discomfort.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are recognized as some of the worst and most severe spine injuries. Such conditions can range from swelling or extreme pressure to irreversible injury to the spinal cord and nerves. We can say that a spinal cord injury may result in disabilities for a lifetime. Spinal cord injuries frequently cause complete or partial paralysis, lack of sensation in specific parts of the body, and failure to maintain coordination between organs. In addition, medical science is yet to find a cure for nervous system damage. Therefore, any damage to the spinal cord can result in some significant issues like swelling, loss of control over bowel movements, inflammation, and various infections.

Degenerative Spinal Disorders

Degenerative disc diseases involve a wide range of accident injuries or common health complications. This mostly happens due to the weakening of the spine or its elements as you age. Some of the different injuries it can trigger are:

  • degenerative discs
  • spinal arthritis
  • bulging or herniated discs
  • scoliosis
  • spinal stenosis
  • pinched nerves

Although this injury is more likely to occur due to natural causes, being in an accident can worsen it to a huge extent. You might have to go through spinal disc surgery if your problem is not treated on time. If you are a diagnosed patient with spinal disorders, do not take it lightly. As soon as possible, rush to your nearest emergency room. If the condition is worse, your doctor may bed-bound you for a couple of weeks.

Treatment After a Spinal Injury Due to Car Accident

Although every condition is different from the other, your doctor will make a customized plan to treat the severity of your injury. Professionals recommend that you continue to seek treatment or visit the doctor until they say that you are good to go. Here is a general treatment procedure:

Emergency Room and Accident Doctors

As discussed above, spinal injuries can be extremely serious. If you feel something is wrong with your body even after a minor car accident, do not hesitate to visit the ER. Doctors will use various methodologies such as imaging tests, physical examinations, MRI, and other scans. Once the injury is diagnosed, you will be recommended to stay at the hospital or go home. Accidents doctors use medicines, injections, and other forms of pain-relieving methods to help improve the overall state of your injury.

Alternate Care

Sometimes all a person needs are a bit of lift-off to feel better. Alternate care like chiropractic treatment and physical therapy has proven to be really effective in case of a spinal injury. A chiropractor will make adjustments and modifications to the damage caused by accident. They do not use medicines or drugs to cure you, so you do not have to worry about taking another stash of medicine home with you. Physical therapy, on the other hand, focuses more on rebuilding the lost strength so that you are able to return to your normal lifestyle. People whose spinal health has highly-deteriorated after the accidents are encouraged to seek the opinion of their specialist doctor before making any appointments.


Serious back injuries can necessitate the use of surgeries to help you feel better. Anything that your regular physician or chiropractor isn’t able to do is moved to surgery. This will include replacing vertebral fragments and also fusing vertebrae together after the replacement of a ruptured disc. Although not a feasible option if recommended by your doctor, you must consider having surgery.


Your spine is at serious risk if you meet a car accident. There are multiple injuries that may result in serious health complications such as degenerative discs and even paralysis. If you have someone around you who needs help, do not hesitate to stop and take them to the nearest emergency room.