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What are the Most Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries?

spinal cord injuriesSpinal Cord Injuries are devastating events that can dramatically change a person’s life. So, understanding the most common causes is your first line of defense.

The most common causes of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Vehicle accidents, including car and motorcycle crashes, as well as collisions involving bicycles or pedestrians. The high-impact forces involved in these accidents can cause severe damage to the spinal cord.
  • Falls, particularly in older adults, are a significant cause of spinal cord injuries. These might be falls from ladders, roofs, or stairs. Additionally, slip-and-fall accidents, even at ground level, can be dangerous, especially for individuals with weakened bones or balance issues.
  • Acts of violence, including gunshot wounds and stabbings, contribute to a considerable number of spinal cord injuries. These traumatic events can damage the spinal cord directly or cause secondary injuries due to bone fragments or bullet shards impacting the spinal area.
  • Sports and recreation injuries, especially in impact sports like football and rugby, as well as sports like skiing and mountain biking, can lead to spinal cord injuries. Athletes are at risk due to collisions, falls, or awkward landings that put excessive stress on the spine.
  • Certain diseases can also lead to spinal cord injuries. Conditions such as cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and inflammation can weaken the spine or cause growths that compress the spinal cord, leading to injury.
  • Alcohol use is a significant factor in spinal cord injuries. Intoxication increases the likelihood of accidents, such as falls or vehicle crashes, and diminishes the body’s ability to protect itself during these incidents.
  • Workplace accidents in certain industries, such as construction, can lead to spinal cord injuries. These injuries may occur due to falls from heights, being struck by heavy machinery, or accidents involving workplace vehicles.
  • Diving into shallow water can cause severe spinal cord injuries. When the head collides with the bottom of a pool, lake, or other body of water, it can result in traumatic injury to the cervical (neck) region of the spine.
  • Exposure to high-voltage electricity can result in spinal cord injuries. Electric shocks can cause direct damage to the nerves in the spinal cord or lead to indirect injuries through falls or violent muscle contractions caused by the electric current.


Prevention and awareness are key to reducing the occurrence of spinal cord injuries. By understanding the common causes, you can take proactive steps to protect your spine, such as wearing seatbelts, practicing safe sports techniques, maintaining a healthy lifestyle to prevent disease, and using alcohol responsibly.

*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery