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Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal Cord Injury

What is a spinal cord injury?

A spinal cord injury occurs when trauma causes damage to the spinal cord or the nerves in the spinal canal. Symptoms of spinal cord injury vary by location and severity of the injury.

Cervical spinal injury

A cervical spinal injury occurs when there is damage to the neck area of the spinal cord. Symptoms of a cervical spinal injury include:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Loss of bladder and bowel control

  • Numbness and loss of function below the injury point, including shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands (quadriplegia)

  • Pain or tingling

  • Inability to regulate body temperature


Thoracic spinal injury

Thoracic spinal injuries occur at the chest level and will affect the legs. Other symptoms include:

  • Loss of bladder and bowel control

  • Loss of control of abdominal muscles below the point of injury

  • Numbness and loss of function in the legs and feet

  • Pain or tingling


Lumbosacral spinal injury

Lumbar or sacral spinal injuries occur in the lower back. Symptoms include:

  • Loss of bladder and bowel control

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Decreased or total loss of control of hips, legs, and feet


Severity of spinal cord injuries is often divided into two categories: complete and incomplete. Those with a complete spinal cord injury lose all feeling and motor function below the point of injury. With an incomplete spinal cord injury, some motor and sensory function is retained. There are varying levels of incomplete spinal cord injuries, depending on how much function is retained.


What causes a spinal cord injury?

Car and motorcycle accidents are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries, due to the type of sudden, traumatic force that is often involved in these collisions.Those with weakened bones from osteoporosis or similar conditions are more likely to endure spinal cord trauma.

How is a spinal cord injury diagnosed?

You will first undergo a thorough neurological exam to determine the level of your injury. After this, your doctor will send you for a spinal MRI or other radiological services. If you are complaining of neck pain or are obviously seriously injured, the doctor may decide to skip right to radiological tests.

How do you treat a spinal cord injury?

Spinal cord damage is generally irreversible and permanent. Doctors generally work to prevent further injury from inflammation and dangerous complications, like respiratory failure and pneumonia. After this, the focus turns to physical therapy and care skills for the patient’s new set of needs.

What is the recovery time for a spinal cord injury?

Generally, those who experience any improvement after a spinal cord injury see most of their results in the first six months. Small improvements to one’s condition may continue after that, but there are unlikely to be any major advances.

If you’ve been in a car accident in New Jersey and need treatment for a spinal cord injury, please call us at 866-609-4448 or fill out our contact form for a consultation.

Whether your injury is a small one, or is more serious, the staff at Sall Myers Medical Associates has your needs covered.

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