The spinal cord is where nerves are stored. These send messages between the brain and the body as they pass through the neck to the first lumbar vertebra.
Whether caused by a blow, fall, industrial accident, car accident or sports-related accident, an injury to this nerve tissue can result in the temporary or permanent loss of sensitivity, of muscle strength and of intestinal, liver and sexual functions.
While an injury to this part of the body can occur by an unexpected accident or disease, in many cases it is possible to protect the spine, avoiding complications to the greatest extent possible. In order to do so, keep the following in mind:
- When bending down to pick up an object, bend your knees and not your back.
- If you practice sports that induce repetitive blows or that involve bearing very heavy weights, properly strengthen the muscles involved.
- Avoid carrying heavy weights on your shoulders or back such as luggage or boxes for long periods of time.
- Practice regular physical activity with exercises such as swimming or biking.
According to the webpage MedlinePlus, when the spine has been injured people tend to feel pain in the region in the neck or back that is affected. The area surrounding the injury may also be sensitive to touch, especially if there is a fracture and if the nerves in and under the region where injury occurred do not function properly. This can lead to a loss of muscle control and sensitivity.
An MRI or CAT scan are the best ways to detect an injury. Treatment involves immobilizing the spinal cord, taking medication to relieve the symptoms, surgery (occasionally) and routine physical therapy.
It is recommended for patients to receive emotional support and get frequent counseling, as it is common for depression to develop when the injury results in a disability.