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spinal cord injury

OVERVIEW

A spinal cord injury, including damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal, often causes permanent changes in strength, sensation and other body functions.

Symptoms

Spinal cord injuries of any kind may result in one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
  • Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity and fertility
  • Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the nerve fibers in your spinal cord
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing secretions from your lungs
  • Extreme back pain or pressure in your neck, head or back
  • Weakness, incoordination or paralysis in any part of your body
  • Numbness, tingling or loss of sensation in your hands, fingers, feet or toes
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Difficulty with balance and walking
  • Impaired breathing after injury
  • An oddly positioned or twisted neck or back

Causes

Spinal cord injuries result from damage to the vertebrae, ligaments or disks of the spinal column. A traumatic spinal cord injury may stem from a sudden, traumatic blow to your spine that fractures, dislocates, crushes, or compresses one or more vertebrae. It also may result from a gunshot or knife wound that penetrates and cuts your spinal cord. Moreover, a nontraumatic spinal cord injury may be caused by arthritis, cancer, inflammation, infections or disk degeneration of the spine.

Treatments

Though there’s no cure available for Spinal Cord Injuries, medications, surgeries and experimental treatments may be conducted to manage the condition.

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