5 Signs of Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord relays messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Layers of tissue and a column of vertebrae (spinal bones) surround and protect the spinal cord. If the spinal bones are broken they damage the spinal cord and its nerves. Unfortunately, the body loses many essential functions if an injury means nerves cannot communicate with the brain.
Signs of a Spinal Cord Injury
- Weakness in arms and legs
- Decreased sensation in arms or legs
- Loss of bladder/bowel control
- Breathing difficulties
- Pain or pressure in the neck or back
Spinal cord injuries aren’t the same as back injuries which may damage bones or soft tissues in the spine, but do not affect the spinal cord.
Possible Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
- Falling from a height, for example from a ladder or scaffolding.
- Being struck by a heavy object or debris on a building/construction site.
- Being involved in a serious road traffic accident whilst in a vehicle or on a motorcycle.
- A serious blow to the head or face.
- Being involved in a sporting incident including a collapsed rugby scrum or whilst performing gymnastics or skiing.
How is a Spinal Cord Injury Diagnosed?
The emergency services will check for motor function and sensory function in order to assess how well nerves are working. Certain imaging tests can help diagnose a spinal cord injury including CT scans, MRI scans and x-rays.
The immediate treatment for a spinal cord injury is usually emergency surgery.
The long-term goals of spinal cord injury treatment include attempting to enhance independence and quality of life, reducing the risk of chronic ongoing health conditions, and restoring some nerve function in partial injuries.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
- Central Cord Syndrome
- Brown-Sequard Syndrome
- Anterior Cord Syndrome
- Posterior Cord Syndrome
- Conus Medullaris Syndrome
- Cauda Equina Syndrome