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What are the main causes of spinal injuries?

Spinal cord injuries are most commonly caused by a broken neck or back as it causes damage to the bones of the spine that surround the spinal cord.


This can, and often does, result in nerve damage of the spinal cord inside the spinal column. This is known as ‘traumatic’ injury and can be caused by; road traffic accidents, domestic and work related accidents, sports injuries, assault, trips, slips and falls and complications following corrective surgery for spinal deformity.


It could also be caused by ‘non-traumatic’ cord injury. Examples include; infection of the spinal nerve cells (bacterial and viral), cysts or tumours pressing on the spinal cord, interruption of the blood supply to the spinal cord, congenital medical conditions (i.e. present since birth) that affect the structure of the spinal column. More information can be found at the NHS.

Since 1988, 45% of all injuries have been ‘complete’, 55% ‘incomplete’. Complete injuries, such as those of people who are quadriplegic, result in total loss of sensation and function below the injury level. Incomplete injuries, such as those of people who are paraplegic, result in partial loss. Complete does not necessarily mean the cord has been severed.

In the UK every year around 1,200 people become paralysed as a result of spinal cord injuries. There are thought to be approximately 40,000 people living in the UK with paralysis. The figures for incomplete injuries may be much higher because they do not take account of those people who have been treated by general hospitals instead of a specialist spinal injuries unit. Many of these people have gone onto claim compensation for their accidents using specialist spinal solicitors such as Jordans.

The proportion of quadriplegics increases markedly after age 45, comprising 2/3 of all injuries after age 60 and 87% of all injuries after age 75.

Traumatic injuries account for the largest percentage of spinal cord injuries. Road traffic accidents account for the largest cause of spinal cord injuries worldwide and in the UK. 50% of all cases have other injuries associated with the spinal cord injury.

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