What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?

The causes of spinal cord injury can be put into two groups: traumatic and non-traumatic. The most common cause of traumatic injury in the United States is motor vehicle accidents (MVA's). MVA's account for 44% of all spinal cord injuries. Examples of injuries that occur to the spinal cord as the result of trauma include:

  • Ischemia: decreased blood flow to the spinal cord
  • Contusion: bruising of the spinal cord
  • Fractures: broken bones (vertebrae)
  • Dislocation: displaced or misaligned vertebrae


Non-traumatic injuries are caused by diseases that affect the bones, nerves, or spinal cord. Examples of these types of injuries include:

  • Degeneration of bone (vertebrae)
  • Bone spurs
  • Infections or tumors in the spine
  • Diseases involving the spinal cord such as: Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Guillain-Barŕe Syndrome, and Transverse Myelitis

Publication of this educational booklet is made possible in part by the generous support of the following sponsors:

  • Metronic
  • Stryker
  • DePuy Spine
  • Fraternal Order of Eagles