The spinal cord contains the nerves that carry messages between your brain and body. The cord passes through your neck and back. A spinal cord injury is very serious because it can cause loss of movement (paralysis) below the site of the injury.
A spinal cord injury may be caused by:
Symptoms of a spinal cord injury may include:
Treatment options are limited, but prosthetic technologies and therapeutic drugs that may help nerve cells regenerate or improve how well remaining nerves function are being developed.
Immediately after an accident, emergency responders immobilize the spine using a stiff neck collar and carrying board in order to transport the patient. Emergency treatment involves maintaining breathing ability, preventing shock, keeping the neck immobilized, and preventing complications such as blood clots.
Once a patient is diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, they may receive medications, such as Methylprednisolone (Medrol), which can cause mild improvement in some patients, if taken within eight hours of injury. Doctors may use traction (often by attaching metal braces and weights to the skull to prevent it moving) to stabilize the spine and/or realign it. Surgery may be needed to remove fragments of bone, herniated disks, fractured vertebrae or foreign objects, or to stabilize the spine to minimize pain or future deformity.