The damage to spinal cord (the nervous system tissue that transmits all the signals between brain and other body organs) by mechanical means is called spinal injury (or spinal cord injury). Such spinal injuries interfere in the normal function of the spinal cord and spinal column. Such spinal injuries can create a big physical, mental and economic stress in a person’s life. Spinal injuries can be minor or major. Mild injuries can cause some pain and tingling sensations in the body, arms or legs. Major spinal injury can cause paralysis or weakness of one or more limbs as well as interfere in the urinary and sexual functions of a spinal injury patient.
Breathing tube and ventilator is used for the patients who have problem in breathing due to the suspected spinal injury. In order to restrict the movement of the spine, the patients are placed in cervical collar or spinal board immobilizer. The cervical collar is placed around the neck. Sometimes, the patient is given steroids after the spinal injury to possibly reduce swelling and inflammation of the spinal cord.
Surgeries are also done for stabilizing the spine and to decrease the pressure on the spinal cord. They are done when there is extra pressure on the cord. Metal rods and plates are placed to hold the vertebrae. Also, some parts of the vertebrae are removed which are broken and pinching on the spinal cord.
Spinal injury Rehabilitation is one of the mainstays of treatment whether a patient undergoes surgery or not. One should focus on a prolonged and good rehabilitation program to recover to a useful and productive life after sustaining a spinal injury.
- Pain in neck, back and head
- Trouble while walking and doing basic activities
- Paralysis of one or more limbs
- Weakness and numbness in body like hands, feet, fingers, etc.
- Difficulty in breathing
- Twisted back or neck
- Hot or cold sensation in skin
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of weight and state of depression – chronic spinal injury patients
Sporting activities, accidents, falls from height etc. can cause spinal injury. Sometimes, sudden stopping of speeding vehicles can cause whiplash type of spinal injury to the neck where the neck and spine get injured due to sudden deacceleration. A sudden blow from the back or a stab can also cause spinal injury. Spinal injury related damage to the spinal cord can get further aggravated while transferring the patient from the site of injury to the hospital due to careless manipulation or handling of the injured back.