Overview on spinal cord injury

Fact Checked

Spinal cord injury involves damage to the spinal cord from direct trauma or indirect damage to the soft tissues, bones and vessels bordering the spinal cord.

It is important to note that the spinal cord includes of a group of nerves that convey nerve impulses to and from the brain to the entire body. The rings of bone known as vertebrae border the spinal cord which establish the spinal column.

Some of the usual outcomes include muscle spasms, loss of sensation in some body parts, numbness and paralysis.

The damage results to function loss such as feeling or mobility. Generally, those who have spinal cord injury still have one that is intact.

What are the causes?

Spinal cord injury might be due to falls, spina bifida, polio, sports injuries, vehicular accidents, assaults and industrial accidents. In case the spine is weakened due to another condition such as arthritis, minor injuries can lead to trauma to the spinal cord.

What happens if I have a spinal cord injury?

There are 2 forms of spinal cord injury – complete and incomplete.

  • Complete – in this form, there is no function beneath the level of injury. There is no sensation or voluntary movement
  • Incomplete – there is still some functionality beneath the level of injury

What are the effects?

The potential effects of a spinal cord injury tend to vary based on the site of the injury. The injuries that occur close to the top part of the spine can result to significant disability than injuries in the lower spine.

Some of the usual outcomes include muscle spasms, loss of sensation in some body parts, numbness and paralysis. Take note that death can occur if there is paralysis of the breathing muscles.


A spinal cord injury requires timely treatment to prevent lasting effects. The corticosteroids drugs such as methylprednisolone or dexamethasone are given to minimize the swelling.

In some cases, surgery might be suggested. Bed rest is usually required to allow the spine to recuperate.

Once acute injuries occur, physical or occupation therapies and other rehabilitative regimens are oftentimes needed. At the present, there is no available cure for spinal cord injury but advances have been made that resulted to reduced damage at the time of injury.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on spinal cord injury is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage head and spinal injuries, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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