Spinal injury

Definition

The spinal cord contains the nerves that carry messages between your brain and the rest of the body. The cord passes through your neck and back. A spinal cord injury is very serious because it can cause loss of movement (paralysis) and sensation below the site of the injury.

Causes

A spinal cord injury may be caused by incidents such as:

Symptoms

Symptoms of a spinal cord injury may include any of the following:

First Aid

Never move anyone who you think may have a spinal injury, unless it is absolutely necessary. For example, if you need to get the person out of a burning car, or help them to breathe.

Keep the person completely still and safe until medical help arrives.

If the person is not alert or responding to you:

DO NOT roll the person over unless the person is vomiting or choking on blood, or you need to check for breathing.

If you need to roll the person over:

Do Not

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your local emergency number (such as 911) if you think someone has a spinal cord injury. Do not move the person unless there is urgent danger.

Prevention

The following may lower your risk of spinal injury:


Review Date: 4/18/2017
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.