Spinal injury

Damage to the spine and sometimes to the spinal cord. Spinal injury is most often the result of falling from a height or of a road traffic accident. Damage to the vertebrae and their ligaments usually causes severe pain and swelling of the affected area. Damage to the spinal cord results in paralysis and/or loss of sensation below the site of injury. X-rays of the spine are carried out to determine the extent of damage. If the bones are dislocated, surgery is needed to manipulate them back into position. Treatment with the drug methylprednisolone within a few hours of an injury aids recovery from spinal-cord damage. Surgery may be needed to remove any pressure on the cord, but damaged nerve tracts cannot be repaired. Physiotherapy may stop joints locking and muscles contracting as the result of paralysis. If there is no spinal-cord damage, recovery is usually complete. In cases of spinal-cord damage, some improvement may occur for up to 12 months.


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