Spinal cord injuries — damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal — can occur even with seemingly simple accidents such as falling from a ladder in the workplace or injuries due to falling objects and automobile accidents.
Symptoms of a spinal cord injury include extreme back pain or pressure in the neck, head or back; numbness, tingling or loss of sensation in hands, fingers, feet or toes; difficulty with balance and walking; or impaired breathing after injury. Severe pain — or the inability to move extremities — can be the result. A "complete" injury refers to movement loss or lack of control below the injury, while "incomplete" describes some motor or sensory function below the affected area.
A chiropractor or other medical professional can evaluate a spinal cord injury with diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays, a CT scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and then provide treatment recommendations. Treatment may include medications or surgery. Although there is no way to reverse damage to the spinal cord, researchers are examining new treatment options that promote nerve cell regeneration and improve the function of the nerves that remain following injury.
After the initial injury stabilizes, rehabilitation services can strengthen a patient's existing muscle function, help redevelop fine motor skills, and educate injured workers on adaptive techniques to accomplish day-to-day tasks. Medical professionals may recommend transfer to a rehabilitation facility for specialized care.