Compared to vehicles of the past, cars today have more safety equipment, which helps to protect occupants from injuries. While spine injuries from car accidents are relatively rare as a result, there is still a risk. Several different injuries are possible, and some can be very serious.
The vertebrae, which are the bones of the spine, protect the spinal cord from damage or injury. Nevertheless, like other bones, they can break if subjected to sufficient force. According to Spine Universe, several different types of vertebral fractures are possible from a car accident.
Distraction is a medical term that describes a vertebra that tears apart. This can happen in a car accident when a seatbelt holds the lower part of the body in place while the upper body jerks forward due to the force of the impact.
Vertebral compression fractures are more common in people with osteoporosis. However, healthy people may experience a traumatic compression fracture from a car accident. With a compression fracture, the vertebra ends up in a wedge shape because the back part remains in position and intact while the front part collapses.
The force of a collision can cause a vertebra to fracture in multiple places at the same time. This is particularly dangerous because the bony fragments can make contact with the spinal cord and potentially damage it.
Burst fractures may be the most serious type of vertebral fracture. Nevertheless, any injury to one or more vertebrae has the potential for damage to the spinal cord. This can have serious consequences of death or paralysis.