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- Patient Comments: Spinal Cord Injury - Causes
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- Spinal Cord Injury Facts
- What is the spinal cord injury?
- What are the causes of spinal cord injury?
- What are the symptoms of spinal cord injury?
- How is a spinal cord injury diagnosed?
- How is a spinal cord injury treated?
- What is the outlook for patients with spinal cord injury?
- Is there a cure for spinal cord injury?
- Where can I get more information on spinal cord injury?
- NIH spinal cord injury: treatments and rehabilitation
- What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
- How Does the Spinal Cord Work?
- What Happens When the Spinal Cord Is Injured?
- What Are the Immediate Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury?
- How Does a Spinal Cord Injury Affect the Rest of the Body?
- How Does Rehabilitation Help People Recover From Spinal Cord Injuries?
- How Is Research Helping Spinal Cord Injury Patients?
- The Future of Spinal Cord Research
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.