Skip to content

    Pain Management Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Spinal Cord Injury and Pain

    The spinal cord is the major bundle of nerves carrying impulses to and from the brain to the rest of the body. Rings of bone, called vertebrae, surround the spinal cord. These bones constitute the spinal column or back bones.

    Spinal cord injury is the result of a direct trauma to the nerves themselves or indirect damage to the bones and soft tissues and vessels surrounding the spinal cord.

    Recommended Related to Pain Management

    Parenting With Chronic Pain

    Not long after her daughter was born in 1999, Sherrie Sisk began experiencing debilitating episodes of pain that left her feeling like she’d been run over by a truck. “It was like the worst flu aches and pains you could ever imagine,” she says. A few months later, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition characterized by fatigue and pain, particularly focused around certain “tender points” in the body. Ten years later, she’s learned to live with her condition -- and her daughter...

    Read the Parenting With Chronic Pain article > >

    Spinal cord damage results in a loss of function, such as mobility or feeling. In most people who have spinal cord injury, the spinal cord is not completely severed but either bruised or torn. Spinal cord injury is not the same as back injury, which may result from pinched nerves or ruptured disks. Even when a person sustains a break in a vertebra or vertebrae, there may not be any spinal cord injury if the spinal cord itself is not affected.

    Causes of Spinal Cord Injury

    Spinal cord injuries may result from falls, diseases like polio or spina bifida (a disorder involving incomplete development of the brain, spinal cord, and/or their protective coverings), motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, industrial accidents, shootings, and physical assaults, among other causes. If the spine is weak because of another condition, such as arthritis, minor injuries can cause spinal cord trauma.

    Types of Spinal Cord Injury

    There are two kinds of spinal cord injury -- complete and incomplete. In a complete injury, a person loses all ability to feel and voluntarily move below the level of the injury. In an incomplete injury, there is some functioning below the level of the injury.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 26, 2015

    Today on WebMD

    pain in brain and nerves
    Top causes and how to find relief.
    knee exercise
    8 exercises for less knee pain.
     
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
    chronic pain
    Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
     
    illustration of nerves in hand
    Slideshow
    lumbar spine
    Slideshow
     
    Woman opening window
    Slideshow
    Man holding handful of pills
    Video
     
    Woman shopping for vegetables
    Slideshow
    Sore feet with high heel shoes
    Slideshow
     
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    Slideshow
    man with a migraine
    Slideshow