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Types of Spinal Cord Injury: A Quick Guide

Though the back may look strong, it is one of the most vulnerable parts of the body. Every year more than 250,000 people injure their spines, where it affects them for the rest of their lives.

Many types of spinal cord injury or SCI, are caused by everyday accidents that are preventable with proper fitness and education.

Because information on the spinal cord can feel overwhelming, here we give you a quick guide to help you learn all there is to know about the different kinds of spinal injuries and how they affect the body.

Types of Spinal Cord Injury 

Spinal cord injuries divide into two different categories, complete and incomplete spinal cord injuries. 

Complete spinal cord injuries are where the spinal cord is completely severed from communicating with the brain. This causes the sufferer to lose control of the spine affected below the injury. 

Incomplete spinal cord injuries are where some of the spinal cord is damaged, but the brain is able to receive some signal from that area of the spine. 

With any spinal injury, early treatment will give you the best chance of recovery and survival. Maintaining spinal fitness can not only help prevent spinal injuries but can also help those with an injury recover better.

Focusing on strengthening the muscles around your spine can help improve blood flow to the spinal column and help relieve the pressure that may be compressing the spinal cord. 

Parts of the Spinal Cord 

The spinal cord breaks down into four main areas. These areas include the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral spinal cord.

The cervical spinal cord is in your neck area up to your lower brain. This area controls head and neck movements as well as breathing, speech, and other vital functions. When this area gets injured it can result in full paralysis depending on the severity of the injury.

The thoracic spinal cord is between your shoulders and mid-back. Injuries to the thoracic area affect movement in the waist down. People with this injury are likely to be paraplegic but most often can live full lives with adjustments. 

The lumbar spinal cord is in your lower back and consists of the inward curve of your back. People who injure this area of the spinal cord can be paraplegic, with loss of movement in the legs and hips. 

The sacral spinal cord is the area most commonly referred to at the tailbone. Though injuring this part of the spine is less severe than the others it can cause lifelong pain and numbness in the thighs and groin area, depending on the injury. 

Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms

Many symptoms of a spinal cord injury will be obvious, however, in less severe injuries to the spine, you may be unaware that there is an injury and experiencing symptoms. 

Spinal injury symptoms include tingling, numbness in limbs, chronic pain, problems with bladder control, and nerve pain.

Symptoms vary according to each individual and where the injury is, as well as how much of the spine was injured.  

You can help lessen the severity of some of these symptoms with physical therapy and strength training at a spinal cord injury clinic near you, though you should always consult with your doctor to see if this option is right for you first. 

What to Do if You Think You Have a Spinal Cord Injury

If you have a spinal cord injury or suspect that your spine is injured you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Remember, different types of spinal cord injury have different outcomes.

With early treatment and therapy, recovery is possible.  

If you enjoyed this article or would like to learn more about the spine, check out our other posts in health and fitness today! 

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