Spine Injuries Related to Ocean Waves: Case Series of Unusual Injuries

Cureus. 2018 Sep 19;10(9):e3335. doi: 10.7759/cureus.3335.


Spine injuries related to ocean wave accidents are little known because they exclusively occur in beach destinations. This unusual type of trauma happens when these patients are slammed or caught by a wave, rolled over, and driven into the water, usually hitting the head on the seabed. Due to the kinematics of ocean wave accidents, spine injuries occur almost exclusively in the subaxial cervical spine. Several cases of spine injuries associated with ocean wave accidents are described. These ocean bathers presented with spinal trauma in levels other than the subaxial cervical spine. Two patients presented with injuries in the upper cervical spine, another patient showed a thoracic fracture, and finally, another patient sustained a lumbar compression fracture. All patients were tourists with minimal experience with swimming in the ocean who very likely ignored the danger of waves. This study shows that spine injuries related to ocean waves can occur at any level of the spine. Therefore, emergency physicians and spine surgeons must be aware of unusual locations of this unique type of trauma.

Keywords: cervical injuries in the ocean; ocean waves injuries; spine injuries due to ocean waves.

Publication types

  • Case Reports