Spinal Cord Injury

A traumatic spinal cord injury results from a sudden blow to the spine that fractures, compresses or dislocates the bone disks that make up the spine. Other chronic conditions such as arthritis, cancer, infections or disk degeneration of the spine also cause spinal cord injury.

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that carries signals back and forth between the body and the brain, however, during a spinal injury these signals get disrupted and lost.

The two types of spinal cord injuries include complete or incomplete. During a complete spinal cord injury, because the cord fails to send signals below the level of injury, the body gets paralysed. However, during an incomplete injury, some movement or sensation below the injury is still left.

A spinal cord injury is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment to reduce any long-term effects.

A patient’s ability to control limbs after a spinal cord injury depends on two factors: the place of the injury and how severely is the spinal cord injured.
While during the complete injury, almost all the sensory and motor functions are lost below the spinal cord injury, in an incomplete injury, only some motor or sensory function below the injured area gets affected. There are varying degrees of incomplete injury, though.

Spinal cord injuries of any kind result into:

  • Loss of body movement
  • Loss of sensation
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused due to damage to the nerve fibres
  • Difficulty in breathing and coughing
  • Chronic pain in the neck, head or back
  • Lack of balance and coordination or paralysis in any part of the body
  • Weakness, numbness or loss of sensation in hands, fingers, feet or toes
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

Difficulty with balancing and walkingAnyone who experiences significant trauma on his/her head or neck needs immediate medical evaluation for the possibility of a spinal injury as the time between injury and treatment can be critical in determining the extent of complications.

Whether the cause of spinal injury is traumatic or nontraumatic, any damage to nerve fibres passing through the injured site may impair part or all of the corresponding muscles and nerves below the injury site.

Among the most common causes of spinal cord injuries, a few are listed below:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • After 65 years, spinal injury is commonly caused due to falling, tripping or slipping
  • Sports and athletic injuries
  • Alcohol
  • Diseases such as cancer, arthritis and osteoporosis


The following tests can help in the diagnosis of a spine injury:

  • Computerised tomography (CT) scan
  • X-rays (this help diagnose spinal column problems, tumours, fractures or degenerative changes in the spine)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) helps scan and identify herniated disks, blood clots, etc., that compress the spinal cord.

Although there’s no way to reverse the damage caused to the spinal cord, advanced treatments, like, PRP and stem cell therapy promote nerve cell regeneration and improvement in the function of the nerves after a spinal cord injury.

Medications: Medicines help to reduce the damage caused to nerve cells by decreasing inflammation near the site of injury, but it’s not a permanent cure for a spinal cord injury.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): The therapy heals issues that affect the brain and spinal cord, such as brain inflammation and spinal disc herniation. PRP is a concentration of platelets prepared from a blood sample. It is used as a form of regenerative medicine.

Stem Cells: This can protect and regenerate the injured spinal cord through neuroprotection, immunomodulation and/or regeneration.

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