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Spinal Injury – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment


What is a Spinal Injury?

Spinal cord is described as a bundle of nervous tissue and make up the central nervous system together with the brain. It served as a courier for information from any part of the body to the brain. The major functions of which are a pathway for information like motor, sensor and serves in coordinating reflexes.

Damage to the spinal cord in whatever form such as laceration or direct blow is termed as spinal cord injury. Injury to the spine in any form may be debilitating to an individual if not given attention. There are two classifications to define injury of the spine according to severity and area affected by the damage. This is termed as the completeness of injury classified as:

  • Complete – injury is classified as complete when the sensation and ability to control motor function is lost from below the spinal cord.
  • Incomplete – spinal injury is classified as incomplete if any of the motor function or sensation from below the spine is left.

Spinal injury may cause paralysis to certain area of the body and the paralysis is classified according to the affected or damaged area and these are:


The defined paralysis is on the arms, hands, legs, trunk and pelvic organs.


The defined paralysis is part or all of the trunks, legs and pelvic organs.

Spinal shock may also occur from spinal injury resulting from loss of sensor or motor function and usually lasts 24 to 48 hours in temporary state.

Cervical spine and lumbar spine are the most commonly damaged in spinal injury.

Spinal Injury Symptoms

Spinal injury in any form or severity manifest in symptoms such as:

  • Paralysis in any form is experienced for severe form of spinal injury
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shock is present defined as presentation of bluish color of lips, clammy skin and state of semi consciousness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Numbness on certain part of the body or of the affected part
  • General weakness
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Control in motor function is loss
  • Sensation to touch and ability to feel hot or cold is loss
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Severe headache
  • Intense pain in the nerve of the spinal cord due to damage
  • Walking is difficult

Spinal Injury Causes

Spinal injury may happen in mild or sever form. At any rate, it is important that spinal injury may be given immediate medical attention to prevent further damage and injury which may lead to total paralysis if not fatal. Injury may be caused by sudden and traumatic impact and may also be caused by certain disease or condition an individual is presently suffering.

Sudden and traumatic causes may include:

  • Vehicular accident
  • Bullet wound or stab wound or which may be termed as violence causing spinal injury
  • Fall from a particular height landing on head or spinal area
  • Contact sports or any other form of sport
  • Electric shock
  • Trunk twisting in extreme level

Non-traumatic or certain medical condition causing spinal injury may include:

  • Degenerative disease of the bone such as osteoporosis
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Bacterial infection or viral infection

Spinal Injury Treatment

Traumatic form of injury usually begins treatment on the site of the accident. Spinal injury is irreversible that it is important to consider proper first aid to avoid further damage and complication as a result of injuring the spine in whatever form and severity.

Giving first aid is saving the victim’s life and first aid actions include:

  • Immobilizing the patient by not moving the head or entire body or lifting the patient if the course is not necessary unless called for
  • Check consciousness of the patient by simply calling out to him without necessarily shaking or moving the patient
  • Check airway and circulation to assess if patient is in need of CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Call for emergency help or emergency assistance

Spinal injury patient as soon as they reach emergency room are properly handled by medical health team where treatment and management is geared into:

  • Stabilizing the patient
  • Maintaining breathing pattern or airway
  • Preventing further damage and complication
  • Sedating patient to maintain immobility which is important in preventing further damage and complication to the spine.

Patient of spinal injury are usually placed in the intensive care unit of the hospital where they will be given appropriate action such as:

  • Medication to reduce damage to nerve cells as well as to reduce inflammation
  • Immobilization by providing traction or spinal braces
  • Surgery necessary in removing fragments or foreign objects and to stabilize the spine

Patients are then tried on different medication that may further stabilize their condition.

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