Spinal trauma is a broad term used to describe any injury to the spinal cord, column, or vertebrae. When the bundle of nerves and supporting tissue known as the spinal cord are injured, serious and permanent damage can occur such as loss of muscle function, loss of sensation, partial or complete paralysis, and cessation of autonomic functions such as breathing.
The most common causes of spinal cord injuries are motor vehicle accidents and falls, however physical assault, sports, and work related accidents are risk factors as well. In the elderly or people with weak or brittle bones, like those with osteoporosis, simple everyday activities can break or fracture vertebrae such as sitting, sneezing, coughing, or hugging.
Treatment options and chances of recovery vary greatly depending on the location and extent of spinal trauma. If nerves in the spinal cord are deteriorating or severed, damage is often permanent. It is possible, however, for nerve tissue that is only compressed to recover.