Spinal Cord Injury

  • Medical Author:
    Jason C. Eck, DO, MS

    Dr. Eck received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Catholic University of America in Biomedical Engineering, followed by a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from Marquette University. Following this he worked as a research engineer conducting spine biomechanics research. He then attended medical school at University of Health Sciences. He is board eligible in orthopaedic surgery.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Dementia Quiz

What are the causes of spinal cord injury?

The most common cause of spinal cord injury is trauma. Nearly half of the injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents. Other types of trauma include:

  • falls from heights,
  • violence (stabbing or gunshot wounds to the spine), and
  • sporting injuries (diving, football, rugby, equestrian, etc.).

Spinal cord injury can also be caused by compression of the cord by a tumor, infection, or inflammation. Some patients have a smaller than normal spinal canal (called spinal stenosis) and are at a higher risk of injury to the spinal cord.

All tissues in your body including the spinal cord require a good blood supply to deliver oxygen and other nutrients. Failure of this blood supply to the spinal cord can cause spinal cord injury. This can be caused by an aneurysm (ballooning of a blood vessel), compression of a blood vessel or a prolonged drop in blood pressure.

What are the symptoms of spinal cord injury?

The symptoms of spinal cord injury depend on where the spinal cord is injured and whether or not the injury is complete or incomplete. In incomplete injuries, patients have some remaining function of their bodies below the level of injury, while in complete injuries they have no function below the level of injury.

Injuries to the spinal cord can cause weakness or complete loss of muscle function and loss of sensation in the body below the level of injury, loss of control of the bowels and bladder, and loss of normal sexual function. Spinal cord injuries in the upper neck can cause difficulty breathing and may require the use of a breathing machine, or ventilator.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/4/2015
Back Pain Quiz: Test Your Back Pain IQ

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Spinal Cord Injury - Causes

    What was the cause of your spinal cord injury?

    Post View 3 Comments
  • Spinal Cord Injury - Symptoms

    What were the symptoms associated with your spinal cord injury?

    Post View 1 Comment
  • Spinal Cord Injury - Treatment

    What was the treatment for your spinal cord injury?

    Post
  • Spinal Cord Injury - Prognosis

    hat is your spinal cord injury prognosis?

    Post

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors