What is a spinal injury?

A spinal cord injury is damage or trauma to the spinal cord resulting in a loss of function, reduced mobility or loss of feeling. Nerves in the spinal cord carry messages between your brain and body. The spinal cord does not have to be severed for a loss of function to occur. In most cases of spinal cord injury, the spinal cord is still intact, but cellular damage results in a loss of function.

Spinal cord injuries can be classified as complete or incomplete. A complete injury means that there is no function below the level of injury. In other words, the person affected would not have any sensation or voluntary movement of those areas. A person with an incomplete injury may be able to move one limb more than the other, feel parts of the body that cannot be moved or have more function and control over one side of the body than the other.

What are common causes of spinal injuries?

Spinal cord injuries result from damage to the vertebrae, ligaments or disks of the spinal column or to the spinal cord itself. A traumatic spinal injury may stem from a sudden traumatic blow to your spine, such as the physical trauma of a car accident that fractures, dislocates, crushes or compresses one or more of your vertebrae. It may also result from something penetrating the spinal cord, as might happen in a severe trucking accident. Below are the most common causes of spinal injuries:

  • Motor vehicle accidents — Auto and motorcycle accidents are the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. These types of accidents account for about 40 percent of new spinal injuries each year.
  • Falls — The most common cause of spinal cord injuries in adults over the age of 65 is falling. Overall, falls account for a quarter of all spinal cord injuries.
  • Acts of violence — As much as 15 percent of all spinal cord injuries result from violent encounters.
  • Sports and recreational injuries — High-impact and high-intensity sports cause around 8 percent of spinal cord injuries.
  • Alcohol — Alcohol use is a factor in one out of every four spinal injuries.
  • Diseases — Cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis and inflammation of the spinal cord can also lead to spinal cord injuries.

What are the symptoms of spinal cord injuries?

The ability to control your limbs after a spinal cord injury depends on which area was injured and the severity of the injury. The severity of this type of personal injury can be classified as either complete or incomplete.

Paralysis from a spinal cord injury may be referred to as tetraplegia or quadriplegia, meaning that your arms, hands, trunk, legs and pelvic organs are all affected by your spinal injury. The second classification of paralysis is paraplegia, which indicates that all or part of the trunk, legs and pelvic organs are affected.

Spinal cord injuries of any kind may result in one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
  • Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity and fertility
  • Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the nerve fibers in your spinal cord
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing discharge from your lungs

Boston, Massachusetts personal injury attorneys are ready to help

If you’ve suffered a spinal injury caused by the negligence of another, contact us for a free consultation. Work with an experienced personal injury attorney on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that you don’t pay legal fees unless we win your case. Representing clients nationwide, Thornton Law Firm LLP is here when you need us most. Call us today at 1-888-491-9726 or contact us online.