Spinal injuries: symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment


Injury is a general term for tissue that has been damaged, destroyed, or has other problems. Spinal injuries affect the nerve tissue of the spine. They may be related to:

  • Cancerous or benign tumors
  • Injury
  • Infection
  • Demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
  • Congenital malformations

Symptoms and treatment depend on the type and cause of the spinal injury. Diagnostic tests include imaging, especially magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

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Spinal injuries can present with symptoms of nonspecific back pain or myofascial pain syndrome . You may not be able to identify exactly where your pain is coming from.

However, if the injury affects the spinal nerve roots or the spinal cord, you may experience nerve symptoms, which may include:

  • Soft spot
  • Numbness
  • Tingle
  • Feeling an electric shock in your leg or arm
  • Problems with fine motor skills (such as writing) or with walking, balance, or coordination.

The type of nervous symptoms will depend on where the injury is, as well as the extent of the injury.

In cases with infectious causes, you may have symptoms of infection, such as fever.

Serious symptoms that should be considered a warning sign include :

  • Bowel / bladder dysfunction (especially urinary retention)
  • Progressive neurological weakness
  • Saddle anesthesia (loss of sensation only in the buttocks, perineum, and inner thighs)
  • Bilateral radiculopathy (pain, numbness, and weakness in the back and legs)
  • Disheartening pain
  • Relentless night pain


Spinal injuries have many causes.

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 30% to 70% of people with cancer will have metastases to the bones of the spine, which can cause damage.


The diagnostic process begins with obtaining a history to assess injuries and risks for spinal infection, cancer, and birth defects.

A physical exam will check for strength and sensory changes. Blood and urine tests may also be done to identify underlying problems and general health.

If symptoms indicate an underlying problem, you may be referred to a specialist or specialist for imaging. The images may include X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) . If a tumor is suspected, a positron emission tomography (PET) scan may be used.

For tumors, your doctor may do a biopsy to obtain a sample for examination under a microscope.

Watch out

Drainage or removal of lesions, such as abscesses, cysts, and tumors, will depend on your age and condition, as well as the size of the lesion and the structures it affects.

Surgical correction is possible for some structural injuries or may be necessary if the injury involves surrounding structures. Radiation therapy , chemotherapy , or targeted therapy may be used for malignant or metastatic tumors.

You may also need treatment for the underlying medical condition, such as antibiotics or antiviral medications for infections, or disease-modifying therapies for multiple sclerosis .

Physical therapy can help restore function after treatment and initial recovery.

Get the word of drug information

If your doctor tells you that you have a spinal injury, it simply means that there is evidence that could inform further investigation of its cause. Consider the screening as a remarkable clue that will bring you closer to a full diagnosis.

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