Although the spine is resilient, it is not immune to injury. In fact, spine injuries are actually relatively common amongst car accident victims, as the force involved in vehicle collisions is so severe. In serious cases, not only the bones of the spine (vertebrae), but the spinal cord itself, which is made up of a bundle of nerves and runs the length of the spine, could be damaged. Injured parties could find themselves struggling with chronic pain, limited mobility, and permanent disability, while also trying to pay for household expenses and medical treatment. Many of those who sustain spine injuries are unable to work for months or years after a crash. Fortunately, car accident victims who can prove that their spine injury was the result of someone else’s negligence could be entitled to reimbursement for these losses.
Bending of the Spine
When dealing with spine injuries, understanding how the injury occurred can prove critical when it comes to obtaining an accurate diagnosis and deciding between treatment options. There are actually a few different ways that the spine can be injured in a car accident, one of which is through over-bending. While relatively flexible, the spine can only bend so far, so when a car crash causes it to bend beyond its limits, (either side to side or backwards and forwards), a person could end up sustaining a serious injury, including fractures and herniated discs.
Twisting of the Spine
Twisting the spine unnaturally can also cause injury during a car accident. This can occur because the vehicle itself rotated in the crash, or because an occupant was actually ejected from the vehicle. Some twisting motions are rapid and short, more akin to wrenching one’s back, while others could involve a person becoming pinned in a twisted position for a long period of time. Both versions have similar effects, placing undue strain on the vertebrae and potentially damaging the nerves in the spinal cord.
Fracturing of the Spine
When the spine bends or twists farther than it is designed to endure, or if it experiences blunt force trauma, it can fracture, or break. One of the biggest risks for these kinds of injuries is the potential for a shard of bone to become dislodged and to pierce the spinal cord. Surgical intervention is often necessary to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and to repair the broken vertebrae.
Compression of the Spine
Some of the most common spinal injuries sustained by car accident victims are herniated discs. These injuries occur when the sacs of fluid that are located between the vertebrae and which act as cushions and allow the spine to flex when it twists or bends, become compressed, usually due to blunt force trauma. Damaged discs can press on nearby nerve endings in the spinal cord, causing inflammation and significant pain. Rollover accidents or any collision that causes someone’s spine to compress can cause these kinds of injuries.
Rupturing of Spinal Cord Discs
The discs in the spinal cord act as shock-absorbing cushions between the vertebrae. If an impact is severe enough or too much pressure is placed on these discs, they can actually rupture, pinching nearby spinal nerves. Ruptured discs cause severe back pain and in some cases, shooting pains down the legs.
Severing the Spinal Cord
A catastrophic car accident could result in the fracturing of the spine and the severing of the spinal cord itself. Where this occurs will largely dictate which part of the body is affected and how severe the symptoms are, but generally, the higher the level of the injury, the worse the symptoms. For instance, an injury to the neck is more likely to affect the respiratory muscles and the ability to breathe, while lower injuries can affect nerve and muscle control in the bladder and bowels. A complete injury occurs when a person experiences no feeling or movement below the level of injury, while an incomplete injury means that an injured party can still experience some degree of feeling and movement.
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Spine injuries can have far-reaching consequences, causing lifelong pain and permanent disability. This can be especially frustrating for those whose injuries were the result of someone else’s negligence. If you were hurt in a car crash through no fault of your own, reach out to the dedicated Miami car accident lawyers at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein today. You can set up a free consultation by calling our office at 305-371-2692 or by sending us an online message.