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Spine Injuries and Disorders

By Editorial Team (2)
January 31, 2022

Your backbone (spine, vertebrae) protects your spinal cord and allows you to stand and bend. A wide range of spine diseases can occur, for many different reasons. Some of these include:

  • Infections
  • Injuries
  • Tumors
  • Conditions, such as scoliosis and ankylosing spondylitis
  • Bone changes that come with aging, such as herniated discs and spinal stenosis

Common spinal injuries and disorders may be accompanied by very different symptoms, and many times these conditions also cause pain. Pain is most likely to happen when pressure or stress is placed on the spinal cord or nerves. These spinal diseases can also limit movement. Treatments vary, depending on condition or disease, but sometimes include braces, splints or surgery.


Overview of Spine Diseases

  • Common spinal injuries and disorders can be caused by damage to the spinal cord due to infection, common spinal injuries or lack of blood supply
  • In many spine diseases, the muscles are weakened or even paralyzed, the sensation is decreased, lost or abnormal. Bowel and bladder function can be affected
  • Diagnosis of spine diseases is based on symptoms, a physical exam and the results of tests, such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • The underlying reason for the common spinal injuries is corrected, if possible
  • Rehabilitation, such as physical therapy, is often needed to regain strength, function, and mobility

Common spinal injuries and disorders may involve the spinal cord. It is the main path of communication between the body and the brain. The spinal cord is a long cord that starts at the base of the brain and extends down. The vertebrae, or backbones, are involved in many spine diseases. They provide protection for the spinal cord. Discs between the vertebrae cushion the spine. They are made of cartilage and they can also be affected by spinal diseases.

Spinal diseases can affect any section of the spine, the cervical (neck), the middle or chest (thoracic), the lower back (lumbar) or the pelvic region (sacral). In medical terminology, each of these sections is referred to by their first letter: C, T, L, and S.

Spinal nerves can also be affected by spine diseases. Nerves exit the spinal cord to feed specific areas of the body. By determining where a patient has symptoms, a doctor can determine the source of nerve damage.

Causes of Spine Diseases

Some of the common spinal injuries and disorders start outside the spinal canal. These include things like many types of infections and injuries. Compression also often originates outside the canal and results in spine disease. Pressure on the spinal cord or nerves can be caused by bone, blood accumulation, an abscess, a mass or tumor, or a herniated disc.

Less often, spine diseases start in the spinal canal itself. These include some types of infection, Multiple Sclerosis, blockages in the blood flow, inflammation, tumors, bleeding and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Risk Factors

There are many risk factors for common spinal injuries and disorders, these include aging, hereditary qualities, work-related risks, lifestyle, weight, stance, pregnancy, and smoking. All things considered, back pain is prevalent to the point that it can strike regardless of the possibility that you have no risk factors by any means.

Patients with at least one of the accompanying factors might be in danger of having common spinal injuries and disorders:

  • Aging: After some time, wear and tear on the spine may bring about spinal diseases and conditions (e.g., spinal stenosis, disc degeneration) that create neck and back pain.
  • Hereditary qualities: There is some proof that specific sorts of common spinal injuries and disorders have a hereditary part. For instance, degenerative disc disease appears to have a hereditary nature.
  • Work-related hazards: Any occupation that requires tedious twisting and lifting usually has a high occurrence of back injuries.
  • Inactive lifestyle: An inactive lifestyle can also cause a more severe pain.
  • Being overweight and obesity. Being overweight builds weight on the lower back and even different joints (e.g. knees) and is a hazard factor for specific types of back pain symptoms.


Spinal diseases can affect your bodily functions and can change them overwhelmingly. Here are some of the body functions common spinal injuries and disorders can harm:

  • Bladder control: If your spine is injured or if you have a spinal disease, your brain will not be able to fully control your bladder and may lead to urinary tract infections. An injured spine may also cause kidney problems such as kidney stones.
  • Circulatory control: Your blood circulation can also get affected by common spinal injuries and disorders. Problems like low blood pressure, swelling, and vein thrombosis may occur.
  • Health and well-being: You may also experience weight loss and muscle atrophy following a spinal disease or injury which limits your body movement. Limited mobility can cause additional harm such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, due to an inactive lifestyle.

Symptoms and Diagnostics Procedures

Your capacity to control your body after spinal injuries or diseases relies on three factors: the place of the damage along with your spinal cord, the seriousness of the damage to the spine, and other types of spinal injuries.

The neurological level of your spinal injuries is determined by your spine’s lowest part that still functions after the injury. “Completeness” is typically referred to as the severity of your spinal injuries and can be classified.

Types of Spinal Injuries

  • Complete: In the event that all your senses and all capacity to control your body’s movement are lost below the injury, the spinal injuries are called complete.
  • Incomplete: If you can still move or have control over the area below the affected part of your spine, your injury is called incomplete.


Physicians can determine what part of the spinal cord or nerves are affected by a spine disease by identifying the functions that are affected or lost and the spine disease symptoms that are present. The ability to perform certain functions may be partially or totally lost. Only those functions that are controlled by areas of the spinal cord below the damage are affected; those above are left intact.

Some types of spinal injuries include cause paralysis or weakness, which makes muscles that are not used often become flaccid or limp. In other conditions, especially in some spine diseases that are inherited and in some injuries involving the spinal cord, paralysis occurs with muscle spasms. This is known as Spastic Paralysis. Muscle spasms occur in these spine diseases because the brain cannot help control certain reflexes.

By recognizing which body functions are lost, and identifying the types of spinal injuries, specialists can tell which part of the spine is harmed and damaged. Finding the particular area of side effects can help specialists can find out where the spine is harmed.

Body functions can be totally lost, or at least be partly lost. Functions that are controlled by the spine which is above the damage are not influenced. Whenever the loss of mobility and body weakness happens all of a sudden, muscles go limp, losing their tone. When flaccidity happens, muscle tone increases and causes the muscles to contract (spasms).

Whenever disorders like Spondylosis and Inherited Spastic Paraparesis gradually harm the spine, they can cause loss of motion or paralysis with expanded muscle tone and muscle spasms (spastic paralysis). Muscles spasms can happen when your brain signals can’t pass through the damaged part of the spine to help with reflex control.

The symptoms of the different types of spinal injuries can vary greatly depending on which part of the spine is affected. The following symptoms of spine disease or injury may be noted, and their severity can range from mild to severe:

  • Back pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss or change in sensation
  • Paralysis
  • Loss of bowel and/or bladder control (incontinence)
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Changes in reflexes
  • Autonomic dysfunctions
  • Paresis
  • Difficulty in walking and balancing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dispositioned neck or back

Diagnostic Procedures

Doctors often look out for spine disease symptoms and if these symptoms are present, patients are given a physical examination which helps to determine a diagnosis and can provide the doctor with information to determine where any damage is located. Often imaging testing is recommended to help determine the cause of spine disease symptoms.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one of the most accurate tests available for diagnosing spine diseases symptoms. This test provides images of the spinal cord and the soft tissues surrounding it, such as herniated discs, infections, tumors and other structures. If an MRI is not available, the doctor may suggest computed tomography (CT) with myelography to diagnose spine diseases. This is a test in which a dye is injected into the area around the spinal cord, and then a CT scan is completed to provide detailed images for the doctor to review.

To be able to inspect spine disease symptoms and injuries, doctors would need to test the spine for sensory movements and functions, as well as by asking a few questions to the patient.

However, if the patient complains of neck pain, or if the patient is incredibly weak, an emergency test will be needed. Some of the diagnostic tests that can be performed include:

  • X-rays: X-ray results can uncover vertebral (spinal section) issues like fractures, tumors, or degenerative changes in the spine. Doctors usually have this test done if a patient is suspected of having different types of spinal injuries after an accident or trauma.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) scan: This type of test can give doctors a better look at any abnormalities that can be seen on an X-ray. CT scans make use of computers to get images to define bone, spinal disc, and other issues.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This test is needed by doctors to identify blood clots and herniated discs that can possibly be pressuring the spine by producing radio waves and a strong magnetic field which creates computer-generated images.

Once swelling has gone down, doctors will conduct neurological exams to identify how bad your injury is and determine the severity of spine disease symptoms. This usually involves muscle strength tests, as well as testing your sense of touch.

Treatment and Care

The initial phase of the spinal injury recovery is to confirm the patient is breathing and their heart is beating. Spine damage in the upper neck can cause lost control of their breathing. This may require the use of a breathing tube and a ventilator.

The subsequent stage of spinal injury recovery is immobilization. This frequently happens at the time of damage before being transported to the hospital. Emergency medical personnel may put the patient in a cervical collar or on a backboard to help keep the spine from moving. In the event that the patient has spine damage, the movement will cause further harm to the spine.

After spine damage is analyzed, the patient may begin on a high dosage of steroids. This could help diminish the damage to the spine by lessening inflammation and swelling. The use of steroids for spine damage can still have risks. The patient’s specialist can help choose if steroids are fitting and will not cause further harm. The utilization of steroids is only useful in the event that they are begun within eight hours of the time of damage.

Next, a halo device around the patient’s head or traction may be used in an attempt to balance out and stabilize the spine and forestall additional harm. Many instances of spinal injury recovery are with surgery.

There are two noteworthy objectives of surgery:

  • The main objective is to ease any pressure on the spine. This could include expelling segments of the vertebrae that have been broken and are compacting the spine. In case of infection, tumor, or even arthritis are compressing the spine, surgery can be performed as a spinal injury recovery to decrease the amount of pressure on the spine.
  • The second significant objective of surgery for spine damage is to balance out the spine. If the vertebrae are debilitated from disease, injury, or tumor, they may not be fit for supporting the ordinary weight from the body and ensuring the spine is stable. A mix of metal screws, plates, and rods, might be needed to help hold the vertebrae together and make them stable enough to the point when the bones recuperate naturally.


If symptoms of a spine disease suddenly appear, such as sudden weakness or loss of feeling, you should see your doctor right away. Immediate spinal injury recovery might help prevent permanent nerve damage.

Patients who are paralyzed due to a spine disease may need skilled care to prevent complications. Complications of prolonged bed rest may include:

  • Pressure ulcers: To prevent this complication of spine diseases, the skin is checked often, kept dry and clean, and the patient is repositioned often. Sometimes special equipment is used to keep pressure off the bony parts of the body, such as the heels, elbows, hips, and tailbone.
  • Urinary complications: To decrease the risk of infection, catheter insertion is a sterile procedure and the catheter is carefully cared for. Hydration is very important for spine disease patients who have urinary catheters.
  • Pneumonia: To decrease the chance of Pneumonia in spine disease patients, deep breathing exercises may be used. The patient may also require suctioning of their secretions if they are unable to cough on their own.
  • Blood clots: Patients who have spine diseases and can’t move on their own are at risk for blood clots. To prevent this, medications like heparin may be given.

People who have spine diseases and have suffered an extensive loss of independence are often depressed and discouraged. Counseling is sometimes very helpful to a spinal injury recovery and can help prepare patients for rehab.


Spinal injury recovery usually includes a team of nurses, therapists, a doctor, a dietitian, social worker, counselors, and other professionals who work with a patient and their family to help them recover from their spine disease and regain as much independence as possible. Nurses will assist with learning how to manage physical care and concerns. Therapists work with the patient on physical strengthening and independence with tasks of daily living. Counselors and social workers can assist with issues spine disease patients face as they return to family life, work and the community.

  • Physical spinal injury recovery method includes practices for muscle fortifying and extending. Individuals may figure out how to utilize assistive gadgets, for example, props, a walker, or a wheelchair and how to oversee muscle fits.
  • Occupational spinal injury recovery method encourages individuals to relearn how to do their everyday errands and causes them enhance mastery and coordination. They learn unique systems to help make up for lost capacities. Specialists or instructors enable a few people to make the modifications expected to come back to work and to leisure activities and exercises.

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