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Spinal Injury - What Should You Do If You Feel The Symptoms?


Any damage to the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal (cauda equina) is called a spinal injury. A spinal cord injury often causes permanent changes in strength, sensation, and other body functions below the injury site.

If you hurt your spinal cord recently, it might seem like everything in your life has changed. You might feel the effects of your injury in your mind, your heart, and your relationships.

Many scientists are hopeful that research will make it possible to fix spinal cord injuries in the future. Studies are being done all over the world. In the meantime, treatments and rehabilitation help many people with spinal cord injuries live productive, independent lives.

What Is A Spinal Injury?

A broken spinal cord
A broken spinal cord

COPYRIGHT_SPINE: Published on https://spinal-injury.net/spinal-injury/ by Dr. Bill Butcher on 2022-09-28T04:11:06.545Z

The brain and the rest of the body talk to each other through the spinal cord. The spinal cord is protected by a column of vertebrae and layers of tissue called meninges. Most injuries to the spinal cord are caused by a sudden, hard blow to the spine.

When the bones are broken, they hurt the spinal cord and nerves. In rare cases, a serious injury can completely cut the spinal cord in two.

Spinal Injury Symptoms

Spinal cord injury. Symptoms

Your ability to control your limbs after a spinal cord injury depends on two things: where on your spinal cord the injury happened and how bad it was.

The neurological level of your injury is the lowest part of your spinal cord that is still in good shape after an injury. "The completeness" is a term used to describe how bad the injury is. It can be one of the following:

  • Complete. If you lose all feeling and the ability to control your movements below the injury, this is called a "complete" injury.
  • Incomplete. If you can still move or feel below the area that was hurt, your injury is called "incomplete." There are different levels of not-completely-healed injuries.

Paralysis caused by damage to the spinal cord can also be called:

  • Tetraplegia. This is also called quadriplegia, and it means that your spinal cord injury affects your arms, hands, trunk, legs, and pelvic organs.
  • Paraplegia. This paralysis can affect all or part of the trunk, the legs, and the organs in the pelvis.

Your health care team will give you a series of tests to figure out how bad your injury is and how far it has spread. One or more of the following signs and symptoms can be caused by a spinal cord injury:

  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of or changes to senses, like being unable to feel heat, cold, or touch.
  • Loss of control over the bowels or bladder
  • Reflexes or spasms that are too strong
  • Changes in fertility, sexual function, and sexual sensitivity
  • Damage to the nerve fibers in your spinal cord can cause pain or an intense stinging feeling.
  • You have trouble breathing, coughing, or getting mucus out of your lungs.

What Should I Do If I Suspect A Spinal Injury?

Follow the steps below if you think you or someone else has a spinal cord injury:

  • Immediately dial 911. The faster help gets there, the better.
  • If it's not absolutely necessary, don't move the person or bother them in any way. This means trying to move the person's head or take off their helmet.
  • Even if the person thinks they can stand up and walk on their own, tell them to stay as still as possible.
  • CPR should be done if the person isn't breathing. But don't tilt your head back. Move the jaw forward instead.
  • Doctors will do a full physical and neurological exam on the person when they get to the hospital. This will help them figure out if and where the spinal cord has been hurt.

Doctors may use the following diagnostic tools:

  • CT scans
  • MRIs
  • X-rays of the spine
  • evoked potential testing, which measures how quickly nerve signals reach the brain

What Is The Immediate Treatment For A Spinal Injury?

What To Do If Someone Has A Spinal Cord Injury - First Aid Training - St John Ambulance

If you hurt another part of your body along with your spinal cord, you may need surgery right away. Surgery can also fix broken bones, blood clots, or damage to the tissue around the spinal cord.

A corticosteroid injection may help spinal cord injuries, according to some research. Within eight hours of the injury, the medicine should be given. This kind of care may:

  • Help blood flow better.
  • Keep nerves working well.
  • Lessen pain and swelling.

The long-term goals of treating spinal cord injuries are:

  • Increasing freedom and the quality of life.
  • Getting rid of the risk of long-term health problems.
  • Trying to get some nerve function back after a partial injury.

Some long-term problems that can come from a spinal cord injury are:

  • Not being able to control your blood pressure or temperature.
  • heart or lung problems are more likely.
  • Loss of control over your bladder or bowels.
  • Arms or legs that don't work.
  • Persistent pain.
  • Spasticity, contracture of the joints.
  • Problems with sexuality.

People Also Ask

What Are Common Spinal Injuries?

Herniated discs are a common spine condition and injury. Lumbar spinal stenosis. Scoliosis.

What Are The 5 Signs Of A Spinal Injury?

  • You have a lot of pressure in your head, neck, or back.
  • Any part of your body getting weak, out of sync, or paralyzed.
  • Your hands, fingers, feet, or toes may feel numb, tingly, or lose feeling.
  • Loss of control over your bladder or bowels.
  • Balance and walking are hard for her.

Can You Recover From A Spine Injury?

There is no way to fix damage to the spinal cord, which is sad. But scientists are always working on new treatments, like prostheses and medicines, that might help nerve cells grow back or make the nerves that are still working after a spinal cord injury work better.


Spinal cord injuries can change your life in a big way. If you have a spinal injury, you need a strong network of people to help you. This support system could include people like your doctors, family, friends, and groups in your community. You can all improve your health and quality of life by working together.

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About The Authors

Dr. Bill Butcher

Dr. Bill Butcher - With more than two decades of experience, Dr. Bill Butcher aims to provide a repository for educational materials, sources of information, details of forthcoming events, and original articles related to the medical field and about health subjects that matter to you. His goal is to help make your life better, to help you find your way when faced with healthcare decisions, and to help you feel better about your health and that of your family. Bill received his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and spent his entire career helping people find the health and medical information, support, and services they need. His mission is to help millions of people feel fantastic by restoring them to optimal health.

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