Spinal Injury (Spinal Trauma)

By | June 10, 2022

Spinal injuries are also referred to in medical jargon as spinal trauma. Ligaments, nerves, spinal cord, intervertebral discs and muscles can be affected.

What is a spinal injury?

In the case of a spinal injury, a distinction is made between the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. The most common form of spinal trauma is a distortion, i.e. a twisting of the spine, in which neither the bones nor the spinal cord are affected.

Spinal trauma usually occurs as a result of an accident and can lead to sprains, bruises or even fractures of vertebral bones. Normally, these vertebrae are quite strong Рhowever, in traffic accidents where a lot of pressure is exerted, they can easily be injured. For definitions of bone marrow failure, please visit topbbacolleges.com.

People with osteoporosis are also particularly at risk because their bones are already unstable.

Spinal trauma usually goes well, with spinal cord injury occurring in only 15 to 20 percent of cases. In the worst case, this can lead to paralysis.


The main causes of spinal trauma are sports injuries or car accidents. Both put a lot of pressure on the spine, which can lead to spinal trauma.

Most car accidents involve what is known as whiplash of the cervical spine, which only causes pain hours after the accident. Sudden overstretching or straining of the spine can also lead to spinal trauma.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

In the case of an existing spinal injury, there are usually always very clear symptoms and signs that can indicate this. Of course, the pain in such an injury is clearly in the foreground. The affected person will feel severe pain immediately after the injury, which may persist even at rest.

Other symptoms depend, of course, on the severity of the existing spinal injury. In particularly severe cases, swelling can of course also be seen in the spine. If you do not visit the doctor at this point, you are taking a very big risk. The pain will increase considerably, so that in particularly bad cases it can even lead to permanent consequential damage.

Severe swelling often occurs in this context if there is a fracture of the spine. Of course, in such a case, a doctor should be consulted immediately to eliminate any symptoms that occur. All spinal injuries should always be evaluated by a doctor. With an existing injury of this type, the entire movement is severely restricted, so that appropriate treatment must be carried out. Otherwise, the pain will worsen and permanent consequential damage can occur that can no longer be treated effectively afterwards.

Diagnosis & History

Spinal trauma is of course primarily associated with back pain. These usually occur very suddenly immediately after the accident. Now a corresponding diagnosis must be made and it must be determined whether it is just a twisting of the spine or a vertebral fracture. The latter can usually be felt clearly.

If the spinal cord was not affected, the patients can usually move again without pain after a few days. However, if the spinal cord has been damaged, it can take weeks or even months to heal. A small proportion of patients can no longer move at all and remain paraplegic.


A spinal injury can cause a range of symptoms and complications, depending on the extent of the injury. Harmless muscle injuries can occur, but serious vertebral fractures can also occur. If a vertebral body fractures, fragments of the bones can shift and cause injuries to the nerve roots and spinal cord.

Severe spinal injuries usually also cause movement disorders and other neurological symptoms. This can lead to sensory disturbances such as numbness, tingling or signs of paralysis in the arms and legs. If the spinal cord is severed, a spinal injury can cause circulatory failure, loss of bladder and bowel control, and other complications.

If the injured person is transported improperly, the injury may worsen. During the surgical treatment there is a risk of injuring the spinal cord or nerve cords in the back area. Inflammation can also occur.

Poor wound healing can promote the formation of aesthetically unattractive scars. This can result in permanent sensory disturbances. There is also a risk that the injured vertebral body will detach again and have to be corrected in another surgical procedure.

When should you go to the doctor?

If pain or health irregularities appear in the spinal area after an accident, a fall or a violent impact, a doctor should be alerted. In particularly acute cases, an ambulance must be contacted. Until his arrival, people present should provide first aid measures to stabilize the state of health of the person concerned. There is a need for action in the case of paralysis, restricted mobility and sensitivity to pressure.

If the usual movements can no longer be carried out without symptoms or if all movements are delayed, medical examinations must be carried out. Pain, changes in skin texture and a sudden decrease in physical capacity are worrisome. A doctor is needed so that the causal disorder can be clarified. In the case of spinal problems in particular, a doctor’s visit is necessary as soon as possible so that long-term damage or secondary diseases can be avoided as far as possible.

Damages in this area can often no longer be fully corrected in the long term. Therefore, even if there are slight irregularities in the back area, you should see a doctor for a check-up. In this way, possible risks are examined and assessed. If the affected person can no longer move parts of his body and sudden incontinence occurs, there is an emergency situation. In these cases, immediate action must be taken and an emergency doctor must be informed.

Treatment & Therapy

Since a spinal injury is usually caused by an accident, appropriate initial treatment at the scene of the accident is necessary. Especially if the patient has sensory disturbances or even signs of paralysis, they should never be allowed to stand up. In this case, the spinal cord could be injured – one wrong move can cause a complete severement of the spinal cord.

The appropriate transport is also decisive for the course of the disease and for the further chances of recovery. Of course, the type of spinal trauma then decides on the subsequent treatment or therapy. In mild cases, i.e. if no vertebrae or spinal cord is injured, so-called conservative therapy is usually sufficient.

This usually consists of heat or cold applications, or the immobilisation of the spine. If a vertebra is broken, it is repaired surgically. If this does not happen, individual pieces of vertebra could get into the spinal cord and sever it. Medical nails and screws are used to fix and stabilize the vertebrae in the best possible way. If the spinal cord was already completely severed in the accident, however, an operation cannot usually help and the patient remains paraplegic.

Following the therapy of a spinal trauma, extensive rehabilitation usually follows. This aims to relax your back and muscles. Massages and back schools are the best therapeutic measures here.

X-rays and computed tomography also provide information about the type of injury and how it can best be treated.


You can hardly prevent a spinal trauma, as this is usually the result of an accident. Therefore, one should exercise caution in such sports. Climbing or paragliding are the sports in which spinal injuries are particularly common. So-called spine protectors, which are intended to protect motorcyclists in the event of an accident, for example, are also commercially available.

The structure of the spine is very complex and it is therefore a particularly sensitive part of the skeleton. Injury to the vertebrae can lead to permanent damage, and the mobility of the affected bones is restricted. There is a risk of vertebral stiffening. If the spinal cord is also injured, this leads to symptoms of paralysis or neurological deficits. Spinal trauma follow-up is essential to prevent permanent damage or to minimize damage.


The injuries range from comparatively minor to irreversible. Follow-up care depends on the severity of the spinal trauma. Especially after an operation on the spine, a doctor must consistently monitor the patient’s condition over a longer period of time. In most cases, spinal injuries require a stay of several weeks in rehab.

Nevertheless, complete healing after a spinal trauma is hardly possible despite medical treatment. If injured vertebrae have been surgically stiffened, the patient learns how to deal with the new situation in everyday life during follow-up care. The consequences of a spinal injury are a burden for those affected, especially at the beginning of their medical history. Simultaneous psychological support can have a positive effect on his mental state.

You can do that yourself

A spinal injury should first be clarified by a doctor. The most important self-help measure is rest. Spinal trauma indicates a serious injury that must not be aggravated by exercise. Affected individuals should reduce physical activity until the cause of the trauma is determined. If in doubt, the doctor can recommend an appropriate treatment.

Massages and measures from Chinese medicine or yoga can also help. The doctor treating you decides how a spinal trauma needs to be treated in detail. If necessary, other specialists such as a physiotherapist or a sports medicine doctor must be consulted. A spinal injury requires good cooling. To relieve the pain, cold packs can be applied or quark wraps can be used, for example. Gentle relaxation exercises also contribute to a speedy recovery.

In consultation with the doctor, natural painkillers can also be tested. Naturopathy offers, for example, marigold ointment or preparations with St. John ‘s wort, which relieve the pain in a natural way. Diet does not necessarily have to be changed after a spinal injury. However, you should pay attention to a healthy and balanced diet so that the body can recover quickly.

Spinal Injury (Spinal Trauma)