| Read Time: 4 minutes | Personal Injury
common spine injuries

While your spine is strong, it can suffer injury or even permanent damage in an accident.

Incidents involving motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and falls, etc., can result in catastrophic injuries.

One of these devastating injuries can lead to permanent damage to your spinal cord.

Do you know what area of the spinal cord is most commonly injured? Your cervical or lumbar spine is most at risk for injury in a traumatic accident.

If you or someone you love sustained a spine injury due to another party’s negligence, speak with a New Mexico personal injury lawyer.

Spinal Cord Injury Levels

Your spine consists of several different levels—cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. Your spine has 33 bones, called vertebrae.

The lower nine vertebrae fuse together as you grow, which forms the sacrum and coccyx. Cartilage cushions each of the vertebrae that are stacked on top of each other.

The spinal canal, which is a hole at the rear of your vertebrae, houses the spinal cord. Severe accidents put your vertebrae at risk for damage, which can leave your spinal cord vulnerable.

The level of your spinal injury plays a role in how severe your injury is. Cervical spinal cord injuries are the most severe level of injury. The reason is that any injury to the cervical spine can affect the head and neck region, resulting in paralysis to all extremities.

Types of Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries consist of two main types—complete or incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury results in permanent damage to that particular area of the spinal cord.

Victims of a complete spinal cord injury will have paraplegia or tetraplegia (quadriplegia).

Someone with an incomplete spinal cord injury will have partial damage. The victim could have some mobility and feeling. However, the amount of mobility will depend on the area of the injured spine and the severity of the injury.

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) reports the most common spinal cord injury is incomplete tetraplegia, followed by complete paraplegia and complete tetraplegia.

Unfortunately, less than 1% of people experience a complete neurological recovery prior to hospital discharge.

The NSCISC report shows that 30% of people with spinal cord injuries need one or more future hospitalizations during any given year after sustaining damage to their spinal cord.

The most common reason victims need to return to the hospital is for genitourinary system diseases, followed by skin infections. Other common causes for hospitalization include circulatory, digestive, respiratory, and musculoskeletal disorders.

Location of Spinal Cord Injury

Four primary regions of the spine can suffer an injury. These areas are called the sacral spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, and cervical spine.

The severity of symptoms can be drastically different based on the region that suffers damage. Further, the two most easily injured portions of the spine are the lumbar and cervical spines. 

Severity of Injury

The sacral spine sits and the lower end of the spinal column. Damage here tends to affect the lower extremities. In most cases, sacral spine injuries are the least severe.

The thoracic spine stretches down most of the upper and mid-back. Injuries to the thoracic spine can cause paraplegia and severe pain. 

The lumbar spine is in the lower back. Injuries to this area of the spine can significantly affect the lower extremities. 

Finally, the cervical spine is located primarily in the neck and upper back. Cervical spine injuries are often the most severe and can substantially affect the entire body below the neck.

Regions of the Spine Most Commonly Injured

The areas of the spine that are most commonly injured are the lumbar and cervical spine. Each region is at a higher risk of injury for a different reason.

Though the lumbar spine is protected by muscles and tissues in the lower back, it is prone to injury because it can be damaged through acute trauma, degenerative diseases, and everyday activities. The cervical spine is easily injured because it has relatively little protection. 

Feeling weakness or pain in the lower back is often indicative of an injured lumbar spine.  Arthritis and degenerative joint diseases commonly affect the lumbar spine region.

Playing sports and moving heavy objects are everyday activities that can easily lead to a strained lumbar spine. Further, people often injure their lower back during car accidents. All these factors make the lumbar spine the most commonly injured region of the spinal cord.

The cervical area is at the top of the spine and is the second most prone to injury. There is little muscle and tissue to support the cervical spine in the neck area.

As a result, the cervical spine is susceptible to damage during whiplash events and when the head suffers a significant blow.

How a New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

Pursuing a spinal cord injury claim is a complicated process. You need an experienced legal advocate on your side who can accurately calculate your claim value.

At Poulos & Coates, LLP, we have a medical doctor and nurse on staff who can help evaluate your case, locate suitable experts when necessary, and assist with preparing your case for trial.

Calculating your future expected medical costs along with your overall lifetime costs requires experience. Don’t risk your potential settlement by trying to negotiate your spinal cord injury claim alone.

Let our skilled team of New Mexico personal injury lawyers help. Contact Poulos & Coates, LLP, today to schedule an initial consultation.

Let us put our expertise to work for you and help you fight for the maximum compensation possible.

Author Photo

Greig Coates, M.D., J.D.

Over the last thirty years, Dr. Coates has successfully represented plaintiffs in every conceivable type of medical malpractice lawsuit–from single-physician cases to complex litigation involving over a dozen doctors and several hospitals. Dr. Coates has taken several thousand physician depositions in his career involving every known physician specialty and sub-specialty, and almost as many depositions involving hospital personnel such as nurses, techs, and administrators. He has tried several dozen cases to successful verdicts.

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