Spinal Cord Injury | Causes & Risk Factors

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How does a spinal cord injury happen?

A traumatic spinal cord injury occurs when there is a severe blow to the spinal column that either damages the spinal cord or the surrounding vertebra or tissue, which can pinch the cord. This type of injury can result from a car accident, a sports injury, a fall or an assault (such as a gunshot or knife wound). Sometimes additional damage can occur in the days following an accident because bleeding, fluid build-up and swelling in the spinal column can put more pressure on the cord.

A spinal cord injury can also be caused by disease, such as arthritis or polio. Other risk factors, such as osteoporosis or aging, can weaken the spinal column, making you more susceptible to spinal cord injuries. Spina bifida (“split spine”) is a birth defect that can act like a spinal cord injury.

Bibliography

See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Created: 08/10

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