Common Signs of Spinal Injury

Every year, up to half a million people around the world experience a spinal cord injury. Understanding spinal injuries, including their signs and symptoms along with treatment options, can help you know what to do if you experience one.

Traumatic vs. Non-Traumatic Spinal Injury

Spinal injuries can be divided into two categories: traumatic and non-traumatic. Traumatic spinal injuries are those that occur as a result of trauma such as an auto crash or fall.

Non-traumatic spinal injuries don’t involve one significant trauma but may occur as a result of accumulated micro-traumas or age-related changes in the spine. In fact, it may be as simple as waking up one day with pain in your back or neck.

Other causes of non-traumatic spinal injuries include inflammatory conditions and infection.

Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Injury

In the majority of cases, the most common symptoms of spinal injury are pain and disability. In rare instances, people with spinal injuries have relatively little back or neck pain but instead have pain, tingling or numbness that radiates into an arm or leg.

Some other signs of spinal injury are:

  • Limited range of motion
  • Numbness in the perineal area
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control.

If you’re having any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to report them to a healthcare provider — particularly if you’ve experienced any kind of trauma.

spinal injury

Treating Spinal Injuries

Fortunately, most patients with spinal injuries (particularly non-traumatic ones) can be treated without surgery. At JIS, we use a holistic approach to care that involves performing a thorough medical history and physical examination, doing appropriate imaging studies and then formulating a plan.

In many cases, basic remedies such as ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine are enough to treat the injury. In other words, just because you have back pain doesn’t mean you need an operation.

Preventing Spinal Injuries

One of the best things you can do to protect your spine from injury is to exercise regularly. Both aerobic activity and strength training can go a long way in keeping your spine (and the rest of your body) strong.

Maintaining a healthy weight is also important for preventing spinal injury, since carrying just 10 extra pounds adds an additional 40 pounds of pressure to your spine. This is probably why many experts recommend staying within 10 pounds of your ideal weight to prevent back problems.

When to See a Doctor

If you’re concerned about spinal injury, it’s worth seeking the advice of an expert. Whether you’re dealing with a traumatic injury or a little twinge of pain, an orthopedic specialist can help.

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