Any injury can be frightening, but spinal injuries in particular are potentially devastating. Because such an injury can affect your ability to walk, move, control your bladder, breathe easily or feel pressure, heat or cold, it can drastically affect your life and livelihood. And the physical effects are just the beginning. Spinal cord damage that renders patients unable to work, play a favorite sport, hold their children or even clean up after themselves also can lead to mental and emotional despair.
A spinal cord injury happens when there is damage to the the spinal cord itself or to the vertebrae, ligaments or spinal column disks, that surround it. Traumatic spinal injuries typically occur when the spinal cord is cut or penetrated, or when a severe blow to the body fractures, crushes, dislocates or compresses the vertebrae. Over the days and weeks following the initial injury, patients typically experience persistent bleeding, swelling and inflammation. Also, fluid can accumulate in and around the spinal cord, causing further damage.
While one may assume that the elderly and children may be most prone to spinal cord injuries because of their frailty and lack of strength, it’s actually quite the opposite. The primary sufferers of spinal damage – a full 80 percent of them – are healthy males between the ages of 15 and 30. It’s this demographic that’s most likely to engage in physically taxing and potentially dangerous activities including fighting, playing contact sports without wearing protective gear and attempting the kinds of stunts popularized by TV shows and films like the Jackass series.
The six most common causes of spinal cord injuries that we see here at NJ Spine and Orthopedic are:
- Automobile accidents: Car crashes are to blame for more than 40 percent of spinal cord injuries each year;
- Falls: Across all ages, falls account for more than a quarter of spinal cord injuries. However, the risk and rate of in injury rises after age 65;
- Violence: Upwards of 15 percent of spinal cord injuries are the result of gunshots, knife wounds and physical fights such as fist fights annually;
- Sports and recreation: Contact and highly physical sports such as football, hockey, wrestling, cheer leading and skiing cause about eight percent of spinal cord injuries each year;
- Alcohol and other drugs: Use of alcohol is a primary culprit in many types of accidents and injuries, including a quarter of all spinal cord injuries;
- Diseases: Cancer, osteoporosis and arthritis can weaken and damage the spine, leaving a patient all them more susceptible to further injury.
If you or your dependent has suffered a spinal cord injury, you’ll want the care of top-notch spine specialists. And you’ll find them at NJ Spine and Orthopedics. Our staff is comprised if highly experienced spine surgeons and neurosurgeons who specialize in minimally invasive surgical spine procedures designed to help patients recover and return to the lives they love as quickly as possible. Call 855.586.2615 to schedule a consultation.