Spinal cord trauma

Alternative Names

Spinal cord injury; Compression of spinal cord; SCI; Cord compression

Definition of Spinal cord trauma

Spinal cord trauma is damage to the spinal cord. It may result from direct injury to the cord itself or indirectly from damage to surrounding bones, tissues, or blood vessels.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Spinal cord trauma can be caused by any number of injuries to the spine. They can result from motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries (particularly diving into shallow water), industrial accidents, gunshot wounds, assault, and other causes.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary somewhat depending on the location of the injury. Spinal cord injury causes weakness and sensory loss at and below the point of the injury. The severity of symptoms depends on whether the entire cord is severely injured (complete) or only partially injured (incomplete).

Signs and tests

Spinal cord injury is a medical emergency requiring immediate attention.

Treatment

A spinal cord trauma is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment to reduce the long-term effects. The time between the injury and treatment is a critical factor affecting the eventual outcome.

Expectations (prognosis)

Paralysis and of part of the body are common. This includes total paralysis or numbness and varying degrees of movement or sensation loss. Death is possible, particularly if there is paralysis of the breathing muscles.

Review

David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. – 6/16/2010

Vertebrae
Cauda equina
Vertebra and spinal nerves

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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