There are an estimated 120,000 spinal cord and back injuries every day in the United States. Most spinal cord and back injury victims are men and are between 16 and 30 years old. The human back is a complex structure of tissues, bones, and muscles running from the neck all the way to the pelvis. The spinal cord is protected by the backbone that runs down the middle of the back. The back is also home to the spinal cord which is a group of nerves that transmit information between the brain and the rest of the body. Due to the important functions of the back and spinal cord, injuries to these areas can be devastating and life-altering. The road to recovery for any person who has suffered a spinal cord or back injury will be long and expensive.
What is a Spinal Cord and Back Injury?
A spinal cord injury stops the flow of messages below the site of the injury and results in an inability to move, feel and touch below that level. The closer the injury is to the brain, the more the body is affected.
A back injury can be among the most difficult to diagnose and treat. The spine, or backbone, is made up of a column of 33 bones and tissue extending from the skull to the pelvis. These bones, or vertebrae, enclose and protect a cylinder of nerve tissues known as the spinal cord. Between each one of the vertebrae is an intervertebral disc, or band of cartilage serving as a shock absorber between the vertebrae.
Most Common Causes of a Spinal Cord and Back Injury
Spinal cord injuries are usually caused by trauma to the spine. One of the most common causes of a back injury or spinal cord injury is auto accidents. The impact of the crash violently throws the body in various directions. As a result, the crash forces vertebrae, muscles, and ligaments out of their natural position.
In addition to auto accidents, activities that put too much strain on your back muscles, vertebrae, or ligaments have the potential to cause a back injury. The severity of the injury depends on several factors, some of which include the forces involved, weight involved, the position of the body at the time of injury, your age, and more.
Besides car accidents many people have suffered Spinal Cord and Back injuries due to:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Acts of physical violence
- Recreational sports activities
- On the job accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
Common Symptoms of Spinal Cord and Back Injuries
Individuals suffering from a spinal cord or back injury may present with the following signs and symptoms:
- Head that is in an unusual position
- Numbness or tingling that spreads down an arm or leg
- Weakness or difficulty walking
- Paralysis of arms or legs
- No bladder or bowel control
- Symptoms of shock (pale, clammy skin; bluish lips and fingernails; acting dazed or semiconscious)
- Lack of alertness (unconsciousness)
- Stiff neck, headache, or neck pain
If you know someone who is experiencing these symptoms after an accident, it is imperative to seek treatment for them as soon as possible.
Victims of spinal cord and back injuries are often unable to work and care for themselves, and they may face significant expenses for hospitalization, medical and nursing care, medical equipment, home remodeling, rehabilitation and in-home care. Although a spinal cord or back injury is life changing, especially when an injury victim experiences ongoing pain or depression, it does not mean that a person with an injury of this severity cannot have a full and rewarding life. Many people with spinal cord and back injuries are able to return to some level of work, drive, play sports, and have relationships and families. Having the right team of doctors, therapists and care givers can provide the medical care, support, training, and resources to help the injury victim move toward new goals.