Did you know that there are over 17,900 spinal cord injuries every year in the United States? Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of spine injuries—closely followed by falls, gunshot wounds, and recreation activities.
The spinal cord sends messages between your brain and your body. It’s no wonder that trauma to the spine is always taken seriously.
Several factors impact the severity of a spinal cord injury. Keep reading to learn more about the impact and types of spine injuries.
Spinal Cord Anatomy
As the brain’s connection to the body, the spinal cord sends information that impacts your senses, motor skills, and reflexes. The spinal cord is a column of nerves that are protected by the myelin sheath and 31 vertebrae.
The spine has four distinct regions. Medical professionals will refer to these as the:
- Cervical Spine—where the brain connects to the spinal cord and the neck connects to the back
- Thoracic Spine—the middle of the spinal cord
- Lumbar Spine—where the spine begins to bend in the lower back
- Sacral Spine—the lower triangle-shaped region of the spine
Each section protects a different group of nerves that run throughout your body. As a general rule, the higher the injury, the more severe the overall damage.
Types of Spine Injuries
So, what are spine injuries exactly? Spine injury types fall into two main categories. They are complete and incomplete:
Complete Spinal Cord Injury
This is the most serious type of injury. It is the result of permanent damage that affects the spinal cord. This means that the brain is unable to send signals below the spine injury site.
For example, a complete injury can cause paraplegia or tetraplegia.
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury
This injury results from the damage or compression of the spinal cord. An incomplete injury impacts the brain’s ability to send signals. This may reduce or nearly eliminate motor and sensory functions.
The most common types of incomplete spinal cord injuries include Brown-Sequard, Central Cord, and Anterior Cord syndrome.
Spine Injury Symptoms and Treatment
There is no wondering when it comes to spinal cord injuries. You’ll immediately know that you’re injured.
Common symptoms include varying degrees of paralysis, difficulty breathing, chronic pain, and nerve pain. It should be noted that you won’t be able to use symptoms to diagnose your injury. You’ll need a professional to diagnose and prescribe treatment.
When it comes to spine injury treatment, every patient’s journey is different. Factors like the location of the injury, medical care, access to sport and spine rehab, mental health, and luck all play a role in the long-term recovery.
Why Spinal Cord Injuries Are Serious
While types of spine injuries can vary, they should always be taken seriously. Spinal cord injuries can impact basic functions that most people usually take for granted—like walking down the street, writing a letter, or even breathing.
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