Every year, between 250,000 and 500,000 people worldwide suffer from spine injuries.
Spinal injuries (SCI) stem from damage to any part of the spinal cord causing temporary or permanent loss of functional mobility. A spine injury can last for years or be lifelong, depending on the extent of the damage.
Most spine injuries come from a sudden, traumatic impact on the vertebrae sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Yet, many other causes of spine injuries are less obvious than others.
Find out the top seven common causes of spinal injuries and the treatment options available.
Causes of Spine Injuries
Spinal injuries can result from trauma, disease, and infection. Unfortunately, many causes of spine injuries are entirely preventable.
1. Motor Vehicle Accidents
1.35 million people are killed in crashes involving cars, buses, motorcycles, and trucks every year. The majority of spinal injuries result from road traffic crashes caused by speeding, distraction, and aggressive driving.
A spinal cord injury is one of the most severe injuries you can sustain from a car accident. During a car collision, your spinal cord may become bruised, lacerated, or damaged from extreme pressure. As a result, you may experience permanent nerve damage or paralysis.
Falls are another common cause of spinal injuries. This occurs more among the elderly, who may fall down the stairs and cause devasting injuries that are harder for them to recover from.
Construction workers are also at a higher risk of spine injuries. These injuries result from falling from significant heights, such as the roof of a new home. Work-related spinal injuries are debilitating and need much time off from work to recover.
3. Sports Injuries
When participating in any sport, injuries to the spine are possible. Sports with the highest risk of spinal injuries are football, ice hockey, wrestling, skiing, and snowboarding.
Football, in particular, is a common cause of spinal sports injury due to the high-velocity collisions between players. This causes tremendous pressure on the spinal vertebrae.
Gunshot wounds, knife wounds, and physical assaults are all types of violence that can sustain damage to the spine. Attempted suicide may also result in this type of injury.
Gunshot spinal injuries can result in devastating disability. They may also involve a lifetime of rehabilitation and surgery.
Complications caused by spinal cord injury are diverse and range in severity. They may include urinary incontinence, low blood pressure, breathing problems, and muscle atrophy.
5. Infections and Diseases
Spinal infections are very rare, but it doesn’t hurt to understand how they can damage spine function. Spinal infections are caused when a bacterial or fungal infection in another part of the body invades the spinal tissues via the bloodstream. It can cause fever and back pain and decrease your spinal mobility.
Diseases such as cancer, osteoarthritis, and arthritis can damage and deteriorate the spinal cord and nerves. For example, joint deterioration from arthritis can lead to the compression of the spinal cord. This kind of damage will progress gradually and can interfere with daily life.
6. Surgical Complications
With any surgery, there is a risk of complications. While rare, spinal cord injuries can result from surgical complications following spine surgery. Anytime surgery is done on the spine, there is some risk of further injuring the cord or the individual nerves.
Although rare, damage may cause paralysis in certain areas and not others. Injured nerves can cause pain, numbness, or general weakness.
7. Birth Injuries
Birth-related spinal cord injuries can develop during pregnancy or delivery. A newborn spine is very delicate. As a result, spinal injuries may derive from breech births, prolonged labor, premature birth, and shoulder dystocia.
Injuries to a baby’s spine can often be detected soon after birth and may require a combination of medical interventions and physical therapy.
Treatment for Spine Injuries
While there is no cure for spinal cord injuries, patient outcomes can improve significantly with surgery, physical rehabilitation, and assistive devices. A combination of all three may benefit people with SCI.
While there is no way to reverse spinal cord damage, there are treatments that can focus on preventing further injury. Most spine injuries are treated at the scene of the accident.
Once assessed by a medical professional, you may require surgery to remove fragments of bones that are compressing the spine. Surgery will stabilize the spine to prevent further pain.
The length of your hospital stay will depend on the severity of your injury. Once you’re well enough to leave the hospital, you may be transferred or recommended to complete physical rehabilitation.
Physiotherapy for people with spine injuries focuses on helping attain optimum mobility and addressing many other associated issues. Gait training, strengthening, and balance exercises are common physiotherapy exercises to increase physical strength and mobility. A physical therapist will also help regain function and prevent complications that may arise.
Many rehabilitation facilities offer manual interventions to decrease spinal compression associated with pinched nerves or herniated discs. These include massage techniques, manual stretching, joint mobilization, and dry needling.
Spinal cord injury patients can benefit from assistive technology or equipment when they return home. This may include wheelchairs, walking frames, crutches, and adapted shoes. These devices may be used until you regain mobility through physiotherapy, or they may be required long-term.
Sustaining a spinal cord injury is a devastating blow regardless of its reason. Spine injuries can cause a complete or partial loss of movement, intense pain sensations, and a loss or altered sensation of heat and cold.
At Dynamic Spine & Sport Rehabilitation in the Las Vegas Valley, our professional team strives to help you achieve individual progress and improve your and your family’s quality of life. We aim to treat a range of health-related problems, including spinal disc conditions, pinched nerves, and sciatica.
Spine care is our ultimate goal, so let us help you care for your spine.
Get in touch with us today.