Spinal Cord Injuries

Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs down the middle of your back. It carries signals back and forth between your body and your brain. A spinal cord injury disrupts the signals. Spinal cord injuries usually begin with a blow that fractures or dislocates your vertebrae, the bone disks that make up your spine. Most injuries don't cut through your spinal cord. Instead, they cause damage when pieces of vertebrae tear into cord tissue or press down on the nerve parts that carry signals.

Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete. With a complete spinal cord injury, the cord can't send signals below the level of the injury. As a result, you are paralyzed below the injury. With an incomplete injury, you have some movement and sensation below the injury.

A spinal cord injury is a medical emergency. Immediate treatment can reduce long-term effects. Treatments may include medicines, braces or traction to stabilize the spine, and surgery. Later treatment usually includes medicines and rehabilitation therapy. Mobility aids and assistive devices may help you to get around and do some daily tasks.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries

The following features are indicative of Spinal Cord Injuries:
  • loss of movement
  • loss of sensation
  • loss of bowel or bladder control
  • exaggerated reflex activities
  • changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity and fertility
  • pain
  • difficulty breathing, coughing
  • extreme back pain
  • paralysis in any part of your body
  • difficulty with balance and walking
It is possible that Spinal Cord Injuries shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

The following are the most common causes of Spinal Cord Injuries:
  • motor vehicle accidents
  • violent encounters
  • diving in shallow water
  • sport injuries
  • alcohol consumption
  • diseases such as cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis
  • disk degeneration of the spine

Other Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

The following are the less common causes of Spinal Cord Injuries:
  • arthritis
  • osteoporosis
  • inflammation of the spinal cord

Risk Factors for Spinal Cord Injuries

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Spinal Cord Injuries:
  • older adults
  • being male
  • motor vehicle crashes
  • diving into too-shallow water
  • bone or joint disorder
  • being between the ages of 16 and 30

Prevention of Spinal Cord Injuries

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Spinal Cord Injuries. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • check water depth before diving
  • drive safely
  • don't drink and drive

Occurrence of Spinal Cord Injuries

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Spinal Cord Injuries cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Spinal Cord Injuries can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Spinal Cord Injuries can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Spinal Cord Injuries

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Spinal Cord Injuries:
  • Computerized tomography scan: To detect abnormalities in the spinal cord
  • X-rays: To evaluate vertebral problems, tumors, fractures or degenerative changes in the spine
  • Magnetic resonance imaging: To determine herniated disks, blood clots in the spinal cord

Doctor for Diagnosis of Spinal Cord Injuries

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries:
  • Neurologist
  • Neurosurgeon

Complications of Spinal Cord Injuries if untreated

Yes, Spinal Cord Injuries causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Spinal Cord Injuries is left untreated:
  • muscle atrophy
  • pressure sores
  • pulmonary edema
  • respiratory failure
  • neurogenic shock
  • paralysis
  • urinary tract infection

Procedures for Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries

The following procedures are used to treat Spinal Cord Injuries:
  • Surgery: To stabilize the spine to prevent future pain or deformity

Self-care for Spinal Cord Injuries

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Spinal Cord Injuries:
  • Avoid alcohol consumption: Helps in preventing spinal cord injuries
  • Always wear a seatbelt every time you drive: Protects from car crashes

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Spinal Cord Injuries:
  • Rehabilitation therapy: Maintains and strengthen the existing muscle function

Patient Support for Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries

The following actions may help Spinal Cord Injuries patients:
  • Talking about your disability: Share your disabilities with your friends and family strengthens your relationships with them
  • Education: By knowing about the disease helps in prevention of spinal cord injury

Time for Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Spinal Cord Injuries to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Spinal Cord Injuries.

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