Can Whiplash Cause Spinal Cord Injury?

The most common injury from a car accident is whiplash. It’s most likely to happen if you get rear ended, as your head snaps back then suddenly forward. This causes strain on your neck muscles, tendons and ligaments. It can even cause your tendons and ligaments to tear. Depending on the severity of the injury, you could suffer from a stiff neck, headaches, dizziness and even problems with concentrating.

Fortunately, these symptoms generally go away within a few weeks. However, it some cases, more serious injuries occur. Your spinal cord runs from the base of your skull to the very bottom of your spine. As such, whiplash can cause damage to the top of your spinal cord, known as the cervical vertebrae. This area of the spine is responsible for arm movement, breathing, head movement and other vital functions. Though it is very rare, whiplash could cause these vertebrae to become damaged or misaligned.

Though it is not likely to be an issue, every instance of whiplash should be treated as a spinal cord injury until you are told otherwise. That means you need to visit your doctor and allow them to conduct tests, including x-rays, to make sure everything is as it should be. Never ignore prolonged neck pain after a car accident or other instance of whiplash; doing so could result in permanent damage.