Spine fractures can be either minor or major. A major spine fracture poses a greater risk of neurological damage to your peripheral nerve roots or your spinal cord itself. Neurological damage can lead to paralysis.
Each of the individual bones in your spine is a vertebra. According to Spine Universe, there are several different types of vertebral fractures. These depend on the parts of the bone affected and the extent of the damage.
Burst fractures occur when the vertebra breaks in multiple places at the same time, leaving it essentially crushed. This is one of the most severe types of spinal fractures because the broken fragments can cause injury to the spinal cord. Extreme force to one or more vertebrae due to a car accident can cause a burst fracture.
A compression fracture is less severe than a burst fracture, but it can still cause serious problems. It typically affects the front part of the vertebra, causing it to collapse in on itself. Compression fractures are more likely if you have a bone-weakening condition such as osteoporosis.
This is not necessarily a specific type of fracture. Rather, it occurs when the fractured portion of the vertebra moves significantly from its normal position. This can make the fracture unstable and put you at risk for permanent spinal deformity and potential neurological damage.
Whenever possible, it is best to wear a shoulder safety belt as well as a lap belt when riding in a car. Otherwise, in a collision, your pelvis may remain immobilized by the lap belt while your upper body moves violently forward. This can cause a flexion-distraction injury that literally pulls the vertebra apart.