What Are the Most Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries?

The spinal cord is one of the most vital structures in our body. Spinal cord injuries can be devastating, leading to permanent disability or even death. The good news is that the practitioners at Carolina Spine & Pain Centers can help you find relief from pain after an SCI. 

We will explore the most common causes of spinal cord injuries and what you can do to prevent them. Whether you’re an athlete or simply someone concerned about your safety, understanding these risks could make all the difference.

What Is a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)?

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is when the spinal cord is damaged. This can happen if the spine is fractured, dislocated, or has a severe bruise or wound. SCI can also happen if there is a problem with the way the bones, disks, or ligaments in the spine are formed at birth (congenital).

SCIs can cause partial or complete paralysis. The paralysis can be temporary or permanent. It can happen on one side of the body or on both sides. The amount of paralysis depends on where the injury is on the spinal cord and how severe it is.

What Are the Top Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries?

The most common cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States is car accidents. Other causes include falls, violence such as gunshot wounds, and sports injuries. People who have had previous SCIs or who have certain medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes, are at higher risk for another SCI.

1. Motor Vehicle Accidents

There are many causes of spinal cord injuries, but motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common. In a car crash, the force of the impact can damage or sever the spinal cord, causing paralysis.

Paralysis can be partial or complete, and it can affect any part of the body below the point of injury. In some cases, people with spinal cord injuries may still be able to move their arms or legs, but they may not have full control over their movements.

2. Falls

Falls are one of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries. According to a National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center report in 2020, falls accounted for 32.2% of all spinal cord injuries since 2015.

There are a number of reasons why falling can lead to a spinal cord injury. First, when you fall, you may land on your back or your head, which can put severe pressure on the spine. Second, if you hit your head hard enough, it can cause the bones in your neck to break or dislocate, which can damage the spinal cord. 

Even if you don’t hit your head or break any bones, the impact from a fall can cause bruising or swelling of the spinal cord itself, which can lead to an injury.

If you have a spinal cord injury as a result of a fall, it is important to get medical help right away. Falls can cause serious and permanent damage to the spine and nervous system, so it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

falls are a common cause of spinal cord injuries.

3. Sports Injuries and Acts of Violence

Many people don’t realize that sports injuries are a common cause of spinal cord injuries. They account for about 8% of all cases. Common sports-related spine injuries include fractures, dislocations, and compression injuries. 

These types of injuries can occur when athletes land hard after a jump or take a blow to the head or neck during contact sports like football or hockey.

Violence is also a leading cause of spinal cord injuries. This includes gunshot wounds, stabbings, and other forms of assault. Violence accounts for about 14% of all spinal cord injury cases in the United States, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center.

Diseases and Infections Can Also Damage the Spinal Cord

While most SCIs are caused by accidents, sports injuries, or acts of violence, many different diseases and infections can also lead to spinal cord injuries. The most common include:

  • Degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis or spondylosis
  • Infections of the spine, such as meningitis or polio
  • Spinal tumors from cancer

What Can You Do to Prevent a Spinal Injury?

There are a number of things can do to lower your risk of a spinal injury. Here are some of the most effective prevention strategies.

  • Wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a vehicle. This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent a spinal cord injury in the event of an accident.
  • Avoid risky behaviors such as drinking and driving, texting while driving, or engaging in other dangerous activities that could lead to an accident.
  • Use protective gear when participating in sports or other activities that carry a risk of injury. This includes wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle or motorcycle, using padding when playing contact sports, etc.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and take steps to avoid potential trip-and-fall hazards. This includes things like watching for ice on sidewalks in the winter, being cautious when hiking in rocky areas, etc.
  • If you have any medical conditions that put you at higher risk for spine or spinal cord injuries (such as osteoporosis), take steps to manage those conditions.

Reach Out to Carolina Spine and Pain Centers for Help

If you or your loved one have suffered a spinal cord injury, you owe it to yourself to be treated by the best. The practitioners at our Carolina Spine and Pain Centers have extensive experience. We offer chiropractic care, pain injections, and other pain management solutions.

You can contact our office anytime 24/7. Same-day appointments are usually available.