Injury to the spinal cord may seem like a rare occurrence, but in fact, it’s estimated that 12,000 people sustain spinal cord injuries (SCIs) each year. Men under 30 years of age are at the highest risk for an SCI, but normal daily activities such as riding in a car or participating in sports makes everyone vulnerable.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
An SCI is defined as damage to the spinal cord that causes a loss of mobility or sensation. In most cases, the cord is not actually severed, but remains intact. Any loss of function is the long-term result of damage. The vertebrae or back bones, can be broken or otherwise damaged without affecting the delicate spinal cord.
The Effects of a Spinal Cord Injury
There are many possible outcomes when the spinal cord is damaged. Much depends on the severity and placement of the injury. Injuries are first defined as either complete—meaning there is no function, feeling or voluntary movement below the point at which the spine was injured—or incomplete. In the case of an incomplete injury some level of movement, sensation and function is retained. With advances being made in the treatment of SCI, more and more injuries are being defined as incomplete.
While no two injuries are exactly the same and each individual may experience different outcomes, generally speaking the prognosis for a spinal cord injury is somewhat predictable.
Cervical neck injuries typically result in quadriplegia
Thoracic spine injuries may result in paraplegia with some function of the hands
Lumbar and sacral injuries affect the control of legs and hips
All spinal cord injuries can affect control of the bowel and bladder, the ability to breathe independently, the body’s natural ability to regulate blood pressure and body temperature and cause chronic pain
There is no cure for a spinal cord injury, but there are treatments that can improve an injured person’s quality of life. Many of the services we offer at Shadowood Chiropractic Center can assist with pain management and help maintain the highest possible level of health.