Spinal Cord Injury FAQs

What is a spinal cord injury?

Spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal cord tissue is bruised, torn, or crushed. Such injuries can be caused by accidents, diseases, or medical disorders.

Spinal Cord Injury Data & Statistics
  • 400,000 Americans are living with spinal cord injuries.
  • 82% of spinal cord injuries are experienced by males.
  • Most spinal cord injuries occur between the ages of 16-30.
What are the common causes of spinal cord injuries?*
  • Acts of violence
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Slip and falls
  • Sports-related injuries, mostly diving accidents
  • Trampoline accidents


What are the types of spinal cord injuries?

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries

Complete spinal cord injuries result in paraplegia or quadriplegia. This is a permanent loss of motor and nerve function at T1 level or below, which means that the person loses sensation and movement in the legs, bowel, bladder, and sexual region, while arms and hands retain normal function.

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

Incomplete spinal cord injuries are categorized by some sensation and movement below the point of injury. The extent of an incomplete injury is usually determined when the spinal shock has subsided, which occurs six or eight weeks after an injury.

Incomplete spinal cord injuries have five categories:

  • Anterior cord syndrome
  • Brown-sequard syndrome
  • Causa equina lesion
  • Central cord syndrome
  • Posterior cord syndrome
What are the results of spinal cord injuries?*

Due to spinal cord injuries, impulses do not flow through the damaged area, which cuts off information between the brain and certain parts of the body. Usually, the areas above the point of injury do not lose function, while the ones below will be impaired. The impairments may include:

  • Motor deficit
  • Sensory deficit
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Bowel and/or bladder dysfunction


What are the levels of spinal cord injury?

The level of injury must be determined so that the doctor can assess which parts of the body will be affected. Levels of injury are classified as:

  • Neck
  • C-1 to C-4
  • C-5
  • C-6
  • C-7 and T-1
  • T-1 to T-8
  • T-9 to T-12
What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?*

If the herniated disc is not pressing on a nerve, there may be no symptoms or there may be an ache in the lower back.

If the herniated disc is pressing on a nerve, there may be pain, numbness, or weakness including:

  • Tingling or numbness in one leg
  • Weakness in leg muscles
  • Pain in front of thigh
  • Loss of bladder and/or bowel control


What are the types of herniated discs?
  • Lower back (lumbar) herniation due to pressure on the sciatic nerve. There may be pain from the buttocks and down the leg to the ankle or foot.
  • Upper lumbar spine herniation: Pain in the front of the thigh.
  • Neck (cervical spine) herniation: Pain or numbness in the shoulders, arms or chest.
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