A spinal cord injury is an injury that affects any part of the spinal cord or the cauda equina. The symptoms are experienced in different ways physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally, it changes the day to day activities of the individual. There are numerous etiologies ranging from traumatic causes to non- traumatic occurs. The spinal cord injury is often due to damage of the vertebra, ligaments, disk, or spinal cord itself. The symptoms vary depending on its etiology and severity. There are numerous rehabilitation and treatment centers that enable people living with spinal cord injury to recover rapidly and live a productive life.
The signs and symptoms depend on the part of the spinal cord affected, When the cervical portion of the spinal cord is affected, neck movements are Impaired, whereas, damage to the thoracic or lumbar vertebra could affect other functions such as bladder control, walking, and sexual potency.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injury
The leading causes of spinal cord injury can be classified as traumatic or non-traumatic etiologies. Spinal injury cam is due to traumatic events such as gunshot wound, knife injury, accidents, or collisions. Non – traumatic events such as inflammation, cancer, arthritis, and infections. The most common causes of spinal injury include:
- Accidents: Different types of accidents especially a vehicle or automobile accidents are the leading cause of spinal
- Fall: Geriatrics and people older than 65 years often develop spinal injury due to fall
- Violence: Spinal injury can also be caused by violent conducts such as gun shoot or knife wound.
- Sports: Contact sports or sporting activities that involve risk, high impact or flexibility such as diving in shallow wasters can also cause spinal injury.
- Alcohol Intake: Excessive alcohol ss intake is one of the major causes of spinal injury.
- Diseases: There are many diseases such as cancer, arthritis, and osteoporosis
Risk Factors for Spinal Injury
Although traumatic and non-traumatic injury been the leading cause of spinal injury in most people, There are some risk factors that increase your chance of having a spinal injury. The most common risk factors include:
- Age: Spinal injury often occurs in people within the age range of18-30 and over 65 years old.
- Gender: Spinal injury is more common in male than in females. Only 20 percent of spinal injury occurs in a female.
- Risky Sports: People that participate in dangerous and risk sports such as diving in shallow water, powerlifting, football, and wrestling can increase your chance of having a spinal
- Bone Disorder or diseases: People with previous or present orthopedics condition such as bone cancer, arthritis or osteomyelitis can increase your chance of having a spinal
Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Injury
There are numerous signs and symptoms of spinal injury depending on its location and severity. A spinal injury can be described as complete or incomplete. The complete spinal injury is a type of injury that is characterized by total loss of sensory and motor function below the site of injury, whereas, the Incomplete spinal injury is type of injury with partial loss of sensory and motor function. Spinal injury can also be classified as tetraplegia or paraplegia depending on the part of the body affected.
There are some common signs and symptoms of spinal injury irrespective of the type. The signs and symptoms include:
- Loss of movement
- Altered bowel control
- Altered sexual function
- Altered sensorium
- Altered coughing reflex
- Painful or stinging sensation in the area damaged due to spinal injury
- Excessive reflex
Emergency Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Injury
There are some general signs and symptoms of spinal injury; however, there are some emergency symptoms that could be very dangerous, if not attended to quickly. The following are the emergency signs and symptoms of spinal injury:
- Twisted neck
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of bladder control
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme back pain
- Tingling Sensation
What are the different types of spinal cord injuries?
Spinal cord injuries can be classified as complete or incomplete spinal injury depending on the degree of sensory and motor function lost in the person.
- Complete Spinal Injury: Incomplete spinal injury, the spinal cord is severed and damaged leading to complete loss of sensory and motor function.
- Incomplete Spinal Injury: On the other hand, the incomplete spinal injury is a type of injury with partial loss of sensory and motor function. Thus, the degree of sensory and motor function depends on the extent of the injury.
- Quadriplegia: This is a type of spinal injury that affects all the limbs of the body, Patients suffering from quadriplegia often experience sensory and motor loss in both upper and lower limbs.
- Paraplegia: This is due to an injury to the thoracic section of the spinal cord, and it often causes loss of sensory and motor function in the lower limb
- Triplegia: This is a partial or incomplete spinal injury that affects both the upper and lower limbs. Most times, it affects one arm and both legs.
The signs and symptoms experienced depend on the part of the spinal cord affected. Injury below the lumbar spinal cord often causes nerve pain without severe loss of motor and sensory function. However, injury blow the sacral part of the spinal cord affects the sexual and bowel function.
There are different types of incomplete spinal injury such as:
- Anterior Cord Syndrome: This occurs due to damage to the anterior part of the spinal cord and characterized by loss of sensory and motor function especially movement and balance.
- Central Cord Syndrome: This type of spinal injury occurs as a result of damage to the central part of the spinal cord. The signs and symptoms of this type of injury include loss of partial sensory and motor function, loss of bladder control and sexual dysfunction.
- Brown- Sequard Syndrome: This type of incomplete spinal injury is often unilateral and affects one side of the body. It is due to damage to one part of the spinal cord. Most patients complain about unilateral loss of sensory and mortar functions.
How long does it take to recover from a spinal cord injury?
The recovery period forms a spinal injury depends on a lot of factors such as location and severity of the injury. However, most people recover in 6 months or 12 to 18 months in severe cases.
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Types of Spinal Cord Injuries | SpinalCord.com. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.spinalcord.com/types-of-spinal-cord-injuries