What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?

Injuries to the spinal cord are incredibly serious because they affect your mobility and can permanently change your life. 

Dealing with a spinal cord injury is challenging, exhausting, and frustrating. It comes with difficulties that are both physical and mental. 

As you might imagine, your spinal cord can become damaged if it sustains a direct blow. This can happen in several different ways, but a few specific causes are more problematic than others.

With this in mind, you’ll want to know what the common causes of spinal cord injuries are so that you know what situations require extra caution. To help you avoid a spinal cord injury, we’ll explain their biggest culprits below.  

Car Accidents

By far, car accidents are the biggest cause of spinal injuries.

Car accidents involve a lot of chaotic force and this can impact your spine. This means that spinal injuries resulting from a car crash are often the most severe. 

During a car accident, you are usually strapped into your seat for your safety. The drawback of this is that it keeps you immobile, which can make you susceptible to a spinal injury.

The impact of a car crash will hit your body and ripple through it. As you might imagine, this can be quite dangerous for something sensitive like your spinal cord. 

There’s also the possibility of a direct impact on vertebrae, discs, or surrounding ligaments that can impair spinal cord function.

It’s easy to see why car accidents are the leading cause of spinal injuries, which means that your best protection here is to be a defensive driver and prevent as many accidents as possible.


The second leading cause of spine injuries is slipping and falling.

There are many circumstances where you might fall. Perhaps you slip on a wet sidewalk, skating rink, or uneven pavement.

Most falls aren’t serious, but they get more severe when heights are involved. For example, falling off a ladder is more likely to cause an injury than tripping over your shoelaces. 

Where a spinal injury can happen is if you land on your back or rear. If you end up on your back, then this can directly impact your vertebrae and cause them to break or displace. 

Landing on your rear isn’t much better because you’ll end up on your tailbone. This can send a wave that travels up your spine if it has enough force behind it. 

Falling is something that can affect people of all ages, which means that you are also vulnerable. Try to avoid running in unnecessary situations, proceed with caution when it’s wet, and keep a close eye where you’re walking to limit the chance of a fall.  

Penetrating Wounds

Another significant cause of spinal injuries is penetrating wounds.

This primarily includes gunshots and stab wounds, but anything else that can be used to poke, impale, or puncture a person also applies. Something like falling onto a nail is another great example of a penetrating wound.

With gunshots and stab wounds, these injuries are serious enough alone. Either one can be lethal if placed in the wrong area. 

When an injury with lethal potential is involved, your spine has no chance against it. A bullet or knife will do serious damage to your spine and can even sever your spinal cord.

Penetrating wounds cause serious injuries to your spine and they often result in paralysis. When your spinal cord is cut, mobility is lost and the chance of recovering it is slim.

Your best bet here is to avoid physically dangerous situations. Don’t go into shady areas of town, especially late at night. Also, consider avoiding carrying weapons to prevent them from being used against you.  


Sports are also a major contributor to spinal injuries. 

This mainly happens with sports that involve heavy impact. You’re not likely to get a spinal cord injury from tennis, but there’s a decent possibility with something like football, rugby, or hockey.

It’s the physicality of sports that makes them ripe for injury. When humans collide with each other, the momentum has to go somewhere. Too much of this will injure a player.

For a spinal cord injury to happen in sports, it will likely involve a hit to the back. For example, in football one player might tackle another player from behind as they’re waiting for a pass. 

This means that you can’t do much to prevent a spinal injury in sports as you’re relying on not getting hit to avoid being injured. All it takes is one time of being unlucky to cause a serious injury and ruin your future. 

One thing you can try is strengthening your back. With stronger back muscles, you’ll be able to absorb more impact before sustaining an injury.

If you’re particularly concerned about your safety, you’re much better off avoiding dangerous sports altogether.

Other Complications

Lastly, spine injuries can be caused by other complications.

This is referred to as a non-traumatic spinal cord injury because no trauma is involved. Instead, the spine becomes injured as a result of another condition weakening and impacting it. 

A few conditions that can lead to a spine injury include inflammation, cancer, arthritis, polio, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, and ALS. 

With this in mind, if you deal with any of these conditions then you might want to take extra caution to avoid sustaining impact to your spine. Your spine may be in a weakened condition and you don’t want to make the situation worse. 

Closing Thoughts

Your spinal cord is one of the most important parts of your body, so any injury to it is a serious matter. Spinal cord injuries have serious effects that can result in paralysis in the worst situations.

This gives great reason to understand what causes a spinal cord injury. Car accidents, falling, penetrating wounds, sports, and other conditions are the most significant factors. 

Most damage to your spine is irreversible, which means that you should do your best to avoid getting injured. If your spine has been injured by someone else’s negligence, then be sure to seek compensation for your pain and suffering.