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Acute Spinal Cord Injury

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

The spinal cord is a vital organ whose task is to transmit signals from the brain to the rest of the body. Acute spinal cord injury is usually associated with trauma. So, it can be a bruise and a partial or complete rupture. According to statistics, most often, spinal cord injury occurs in men at a young age.

Spinal cord injury leads to movement restrictions and can even be fatal. Most often, the cervical and thoracic regions are affected in this situation. It is not uncommon for patients with spinal cord injuries to remain disabled or even die. There are 33 vertebrae in the human spine. These vertebrae form the backbone and protect the back of the brain. Generally, the higher the injury occurs, the more severe the symptoms. A vertebral injury does not necessarily mean spinal cord injury. However, spinal cord injury can occur without a vertebral fracture. If a person has a spinal cord injury, they need urgent emergency medical attention and examination.

In this article, we look at spinal cord injury, their causes, symptoms, and treatment.


Acute Spinal Cord Injury Overview

To understand what this injury is, you need to understand what the spine consists of. The human spine consists of a large number of bones called vertebrae. The spinal cord runs down through a canal in the center of these bones. It is a bundle of nerves created to transmit messages between the brain and the body. It helps to move and feel an acute spinal cord injury resulting from traumatic injury due to contusion or partial or complete rupture of the spinal cord. This condition is often the cause of disability or even death of patients.

A person who has sustained a spinal cord injury needs urgent medical attention to prevent suffocation and death. During the recovery process, the patient is shown physiotherapy as the main part of the treatment. Doctors are increasingly working to prevent muscle atrophy and contracture. Also, the patient constantly needs special training for the muscles, which the doctor prescribes.

People who have suffered a severe spinal cord injury may have apathy or even depression due to the fear of never regaining the ability to move and control the body. Also, they worry that their relatives must bear most of the work in caring for them. Therefore, one of the ways to prevent depression is occupational therapy. It helps to find new ways to do the necessary things, given the state of health. The faster the patient adapts to the condition that he has now and finds ways to do the required things, the higher the chances of a speedy recovery.

The team of doctors helps the patient’s whole family adapt to the current situation. Medical staff can teach how to care for a patient, follow the doctor’s recommendations, properly train muscles and talk about emergency signals.

Even after recovery, the patient needs medical advice and periodic diagnostics to monitor progress. In some situations, the doctor may recommend that the patient communicates with a psychologist to prevent a depressive state.


Symptoms of Acute Spinal Cord Injury

The symptoms of acute Spinal Cord Injury may vary from patient to patient. They will depend on exactly where the injury is located and which part of the body is most affected. Once a person has a spinal cord injury, the spine is in a state of shock, and this can cause a loss to reduce the sensation of muscle movement and reflexes. Still, as the swelling decreases, the patient may develop several other symptoms depending on the location of the injury. Usually, the severity of symptoms depends on the height of the damage to the spinal cord. For example, the patient may feel the effects of heavy breathing due to an injury to the cervical spine, the first and second vertebrae of the spine, or the middle cervical vertebrae. If the injury occurs in the lower back, it can lead to problems with the bladder, bowels of the legs, and sexual functions.

symptoms of acute spinal cord injury

So patients may experience consequences such as quadriplegia and impaired limb function. Another consequence can be paraplegia, which is characterized by impaired function of the legs and lower body.

The severity of spinal cord injuries determines whether the injury is complete or incomplete. Let’s find out what constitutes complete and incomplete trauma:

  • A complete injury means the patient cannot control any body parts below the injury.
  • An incomplete injury means that body parts can still be controlled below the injury level.


Let’s look at the most common signs of spinal injury:

  • Muscle weakness;
  • Loss of voluntary muscle movement in the chest, arms, or legs;
  • Breathing problems;
  • Loss of sensation in chest or limbs;
  • Bowel and bladder problems.


Spinal Cord Injury Causes

SCI can happen in entirely different ways. The most common cause is a crooked neck. It, in turn, can happen for the following reasons:

  • Waterfalls;
  • Road accidents;
  • Injuries received while playing sports;
  • Diving accidents;
  • Unsuccessful trampoline lessons;
  • Injuries resulting from violence;
  • Infections that form an abscess on the spinal cord;
  • Birth trauma.


Risk Factors

There is a category of people at greater risk of getting CSM than others. For example, the average age of getting this injury has increased over the past few decades and is now 42 years old. According to statistics, the majority of people who carry SCI are males. Ironically, white Hispanics are more likely to get SCI than other ethnic groups.


Diagnosis of Acute Spinal Cord Injury

If a patient has received acute SCI, they need urgent medical attention. A doctor’s examination is critical if spinal cord injuries are suspected. In the beginning, the effects of SCI may not be clear. A complete examination and diagnosis are required. As a rule, the examination begins with a survey of the patient regarding his well-being and the passage of diagnostic tests. During the examination, the doctor may ask the patient how the injury occurred and what preceded it. Sometimes, spinal cord injuries can cause permanent neurological problems, and the patient is forced to be under the supervision of doctors. In some causes, the patient is shown a surgical operation to restore the spinal cord after an acute injury.

The following diagnostic options can be used as an examination:

  • Blood analysis;
  • X-ray;
  • Computed tomography;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging.


Spinal Cord Injury Treatment 

As we have already said, a patient who has received SCI requires urgent medical attention. An ambulance must be called to the scene. After the injury, the neck and head may be immobilized. It is necessary so that you do not move. The choice of treatment for acute spinal cord injuries depends on factors such as:

  • Age;
  • General health;
  • Disease history;
  • Degree of SCI;
  • Type of injury;
  • Drug tolerance;
  • Expectations from the treatment process.

Today, restoring a damaged or bruised back brain is almost impossible. However, doctors are looking for ways to stimulate the regeneration of the spinal cord. The severity of the injury and its location on the body determines the patient’s recovery rate. In some cases, spinal cord injuries can be fatal.

Sometimes a patient needs surgery to determine the extent of spinal cord injury, stabilize broken spines, relieve pressure on the injured area, and perform other essential actions.

spinal cord injury

So, treatment may include the following:

  • Constant monitoring of the patient’s condition;
  • Medical treatment in the intensive care unit;
  • Use of medications such as corticosteroids;
  • Breathing apparatus connection;
  • Insertion of a bladder catheter;
  • Using a patient feeding tube.

Thus, recovery after spinal cord injuries requires long-term hospitalization, constant monitoring of the patient’s condition, and a course of rehabilitation. Medical staff work as a team to monitor the patient’s condition, the work of his most important organs, measure the most critical indicators such as blood pressure and temperature, and control the function of the bladder with the intestines.


When Should You Call the Doctor?

If you or a loved one is undergoing spinal cord injury treatment, you must carefully monitor his condition. Often, with proper treatment and a mild degree of spinal cord injury, it is possible to return many functions and the ability to control your body. However, in some situations, there may be long-term problems or a sudden deterioration in well-being. It is essential to be aware of some symptoms that indicate you need to contact your doctor urgently. Among these symptoms are the following:

  • Weakness;
  • Numbness or loss of sensation;
  • loss of bladder or bowel control;
  • The appearance of skin ulcers or infections;
  • Labored breathing;
  • Fever;
  • Cough;
  • Strong headache
  • Irregular urination;
  • Severe diarrhea or constipation;
  • Severe muscle cramps or spasms;
  • The appearance of severe pain.


How to Get the Most Benefit from the Treatment?

To get the clearest and most necessary recommendations from the doctor, he needs to know all the details about the patient’s condition. Also, the patient must write down everything the doctor says and act according to his instructions. Here are some tips to help you work with your doctor to get the most out of your treatment:

  • Recall in detail what happened to you on the day you were injured;
  • Try to write down in advance all the symptoms you have;
  • Write down all the questions you would like to ask;
  • Discuss with your doctor the possibility of your recovery and its timing;
  • If you are shown physical exercises to regain control over your body, ask your doctor to tell you more about it.
  • Ask someone close to you to be with you for your consultation with your doctor. It will help you ask all the necessary questions and remember as much information as possible.
  • Write down the name of the diagnosis that you have been given, specify its features and important points;
  • Write down all the names of the drugs that a doctor has prescribed to you, as well as the instructions for them;
  • Ask about alternative treatments for your illness;
  • Learn about diagnostic methods and how to decipher the results correctly;
  • Specify the date and time of the second consultation if you need it;
  • Find out the doctor’s phone number and when you can contact him if you need to urgently.


Ways to Prevent Acute Spinal Cord Injury

In fact, there is no specific way to prevent spinal cord injuries. However, there are certain safety precautions that will help you avoid this problem. In order to never encounter such an injury, use the following rules:

  • Never drive drunk or under the influence of drugs;
  • Always wear your seat belt when driving;
  • Wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or bicycle;
  • Avoid activities that could potentially lead to injury;
  • Don’t do extreme sports.


Bottom Line 

Thus, we looked at spinal cord injury, its causes, symptoms, and consequences. Most often, such injuries occur due to extreme sports or as a result of a traffic accident. To prevent spinal cord injury, refrain from hazardous activities and protect yourself when driving or skiing. Spinal cord injury can lead to disability or even death. A person who suffers a spinal cord injury must be urgently hospitalized for medical attention and a thorough examination. In our clinic, you can undergo an examination and receive recommendations from highly qualified neuropathologists. Every day, we help countless people cope with the symptoms of a wide variety of neurological diseases. If possible, we do our best to help the person recover. Thanks to our modern equipment, we are able to diagnose various severe neurological diseases at an early stage. Sign up for a consultation right now at the phone number: 214-619-1910.



  • What are the two types of spinal cord injuries?

Most often, spinal cord injuries are of two types such as complete and incomplete damage. Complete damage to the spinal cord causes irreversible processes in the affected part. With incomplete damage to the spinal cord, there is a chance to return the body’s sensitivity and ability to control it. The chances of this depend on the severity of the spinal cord injury, treatment, and other factors.

  • What is the most common spinal cord injury?

The most common types of spinal cord injury are incomplete tetraplegia and paraplegia. Incomplete types of spinal cord injuries account for more than 65% of all spinal cord injuries.

  • Can spinal cord injury be cured?

No, spinal cord injury cannot be cured. However, treatment helps prevent further injury and permanent damage.

  • What organs are affected by spinal cord injury?

Due to damage to the spinal cord, a person may experience quadriplegia. With this paralysis, all parts of the trunk and limbs are affected.

  • Can you walk after a spinal cord injury?

Yes, the patient can walk after a spinal cord injury. It is possible because the spinal cord is subject to regeneration and makes adaptive changes under the influence of such a process as neuroplasticity.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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