Spinal cord injuries are often associated with pain, numbness, weakness and paralysis. These are some of the most common symptoms that people experience after suffering from spinal cord damage.
However, there are many other possible symptoms that people may experience after suffering from a spinal cord injury such as bladder issues or difficulty swallowing food or water.
Let’s learn more about the spinal cord itself and how this tissue responds to injuries.
What Is the Spinal Cord?
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerve tissue that extends from the brain to the lower back. It is made up of 31 pairs of spinal nerves, or spinal vertebrae.
The spine houses the central nervous system and protects it from injury. The vertebrae provide support for its protective coverings (the meninges) and protect it from damage by absorbing shock.
The body’s central nervous system controls all bodily functions such as thinking, movement, feeling and more.
How Do Spinal Cords Get Injured?
The spinal cord can get injured in many ways, but most commonly by trauma to the back or neck. These injuries are often referred to as “spinal cord injury” or SCI.
Spinal cord injuries can be classified into two types: complete and incomplete.
Complete SCI means that all levels of sensation from below to above are lost, including feeling and movement.
Incomplete SCI means that there is loss of motion below the injury site but sensation remains intact at all above levels.
A third type, called tetraplegia (paresis), refers to loss of motion in four limbs.
Spinal cords can get injured in sudden accidents, such as car crashes, falls, or even infection in the spinal cord.
What Are the Symptoms of an Injury?
Spinal cord injuries can present in many ways. Here are some common symptoms:
-Numbness in the limbs and/or torso
-Muscle weakness and spasms
-Pain that does not improve with treatment
-Changes in bowel or bladder function
-Changes in sexual function
-Changes in mood
How Are Spinal Cord Injuries Treated?
Spinal cord injuries are one of the most common causes of permanent disability in the United States. This is because these injuries often result in paralysis and loss of sensation, which can make it difficult for patients to move and perform daily tasks.
Treatment for spinal cord injuries typically involves surgery, rehabilitation therapy, and pain management. However, there are a few treatment options that have been shown to be effective.
One treatment option is epidural stimulation, which involves inserting a fine wire into the epidural space around the spinal cord. The wire has electrodes on it that can deliver electrical pulses to specific parts of the spinal cord when needed.
Epidural stimulation is an effective treatment for patients with certain types of paralysis who have lost sensation below their injury site. It may also help with some other symptoms.
Talk to your doctor or a trusted physical therapist to learn more about treating spinal cord injuries.