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Can whiplash damage your spinal cord?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car accidents cause millions of injuries every single year. One of the more common accident-associated injuries is whiplash. According to the Mayo Clinic, whiplash is a neck injury that happens when the head rapidly moves backward and forward. Luckily, despite being painful, whiplash usually is not a serious condition.

That is not always the case, however. In fact, if you have whiplash following a motor vehicle accident, you might also have spinal cord damage. As you might suspect, spinal cord injuries can be catastrophic and life-limiting.

How can whiplash injure your spinal cord?

Your spinal cord passes through your neck, commonly called the cervical spine, and down your back. Rapid head movement can cause vertebrae in your neck to shift and impinge on your spinal cord. This can result in temporary or even permanent paralysis.

What symptoms might you experience?

If your whiplash comes with a spinal cord injury, you might experience a variety of symptoms. Here are some common ones:

  • Loss of movement in your arms or legs
  • Difficulty with tasks that require fine motor skills, such as typing
  • Tingling, numbness or loss of sensation in your fingers or toes
  • Pain in your neck, back or limbs

While these symptoms can appear immediately after a car accident, it might take days or even weeks for you to notice them. As a result, you should closely monitor yourself for signs of a spinal cord injury during your whiplash recovery.

Ultimately, if you think there is even a slight possibility you might have injured your spinal cord during a crash, it is imperative to seek emergency medical care.