What spinal injuries can occur after a car accident?

Statistics show that car accidents cause the most spinal injuries at a rate of 38%, or 17,000 cases annually. The spinal column is delicate and houses nerves, bones and ligaments that help the body stand erect. Car accidents can cause several types spinal cord injuries for drivers in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Whiplash is among the most common spinal cord injuries in motor vehicle accidents. The violent jerking of the neck from impact throws the spine out of alignment. It is possible for even low-speed accidents to cause whiplash; most occur at 12 mph or slower.

It isn’t uncommon for drivers to think that they didn’t get injured because adrenaline masks the symptoms of whiplash. Some symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, decrease in the neck’s range of motion, neck pain or stiffness, and tinnitus.

Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis occurs when the bones narrow in the spinal column, which compresses the spine and nerves. This condition happens more frequently in the neck, or cervical stenosis, and back, or lumbar stenosis.

Sometimes, the stenosis shows on CT scans but presents no symptoms. Stenosis may cause weakness or numbness in the neck, hands, arms or feet as well as back pain, neck pain, balance issues and pain or cramps in the legs. The severity depends on the degree of narrowing, meaning minimal narrowing may not produce any symptoms.

Herniated disc

The discs in the spine have a gel-like substance in the center that serves as a shock absorber. The impact of an auto accident may cause the soft, inner layer to rupture. The discs naturally get weaker as a person ages, and predisposition may be present in some families.

Herniated disc symptoms and the severity depend on where the injury occurred. General symptoms include numbness or tingling in the injured area, muscle weakness, and leg or arm pain.

Drivers should never assume they aren’t injured after a crash, even a minor accident. While injured victims could be entitled to compensation to recover lost wages and pay medical bills, they may need legal help to navigate a lawsuit against at-fault drivers.

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