Types of spinal injury icn spinal injury

It is not fracture of the vertebrae alone which is damaging, but the associated injury to the spinal cord. An injury can be considered 'complete' (no movement or sensation below a neurological level) or 'incomplete' (some preservation of movement and/or sensation). The significance is that if the injury is incomplete, some neurological recovery may be expected.

A dislocation or fracture of the vertebral body often causes damage mainly to the front of the spinal cord, which will affect movement and sensation (anterior cord syndrome). Posterior cord syndrome is rarer, and affects proprioception (position sense). A central cord syndrome is more common in older patients. Damage to one side of the cord (for example, by a stab wound) may cause loss or reduction of power on one side and reduced or absent sensation to pain and temperature on the other.

Tetraplegia results from a broken neck and means little or no movement or feeling from the neck area down (high or low tetraplegia, depending on the level of the lesion).

Paraplegia is caused by a broken back and affects from the chest or waist down.

Apart from paralysis, there are many cases involving back injury, ranging from minor sprains to permanent and disabling fractures and soft tissue injuries, which cause chronic disability through pain alone. (Note: there does not have to be a fracture to cause a permanent disability).