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Spinal Cord Injury: Tests and Treatments

Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on November 12, 2019

What Tests Are Used to Determine the Extent of Injury?

  • Neurologic examinations
  • CT scan or MRI of the spine
  • Spine X-rays

Learn more about these tests.

How Is a Spinal Cord Injury Treated?

A spinal cord injury requires immediate treatment in order to address life-threatening complications and to decrease the risk of long-term problems. Corticosteroid drugs such as dexamethasone (Decadron) or methylprednisolone (Medrol) are used to reduce swelling. In some cases, surgery may be recommended. Bed rest may be needed in order for the spine to heal. After acute spinal cord injuries occur, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other rehabilitation interventions sometimes are required.

There is no cure for spinal cord injury; however, researchers continue to work on advances, many of which have resulted in a decrease in damage at the time of the injury.