Spinal Cord Injury Day: Details about Spinal Cord Compression


Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vikas Kumar Sharma

General Health

6 min read


Spinal cord compression results from a condition that puts pressure on your spine. It can occur anywhere from your neck to your lower back. Spinal Cord Injury Day 2022 aims to raise awareness about spinal cord compression, it's symptoms, causes, and treatment. 

Key Takeaways

  • Spinal cord compression can be prevented by exercise, maintaining good posture, and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Spinal cord compression symptoms include pain, weakness, and numbness
  • Spinal cord compression treatment includes medication, physical therapy, and surgery as a last resort

Have you ever wondered about the need for a day like 'Spinal Cord Injury Day?' Like all other body parts, the spinal cord undergoes wear and tear changes as we age. The spinal cord is a major part of the central nervous system and the brain. The body's functioning depends on them, which is why we need to keep them healthy and strong. So for Spinal Cord Injury Day 2022, let's learn more about spinal cord compression.

A Peek Into Spinal Cord Injury Day

Spinal Cord Injury Day is celebrated on the 5th of September to raise awareness of the importance of spinal cord injuries among people. It showcases when a spinal cord injury is left untreated, it can cause some devastating complications. Many associations worldwide collaborate with brands, hospitals, and people to help the public know about treatment and care options for spinal cord injuries.  

What is a Spinal Cord?

On Spinal Cord Injury Day, we ask you if you know how many bones comprise to form the spinal cord. Our spine is made up of 24 bones that are called vertebrae. This delicate canal also has most of the nerves connecting the body for reflex actions. It is equivalent to the brain in movement and function. The spinal nerves conduct all kinds of impulses and are also part of the fight and flight system. Hence, the protection and safety of the spinal cord are extremely important.  

Spinal Cord Injury Day

Spinal Cord Compression Causes and Triggers

  • The most common cause of compression is degenerative changes which we often call arthritis or spondylosis. [1]As the disks in the spine age, they begin to bulge, dry out and cause stiffness making the vertebrae move closer to each other. Then the body produces extra bones to cover the loss, and these bony spurs narrow the spinal canal and compress the cord. They also press on the nerves that pass through, thus hindering their functions
  • Sometimes, when worn out, the disks herniate (abnormal rupture of any internal muscle containing a body part) or move out towards the spinal canal, putting pressure on the cord. Herniated disks cause wrong lifting, pulling, bending, and twisting movements of the spine. Other causes include ruptured disks due to injuries. Any injuries such as falls from a height, motor vehicle accidents, or sports during which the neck is moved beyond its usual limitations can lead to compression
  • Bone fractures are another leading cause
Additional Read: Fracture in Your Bones

Other Causes of Spinal Cord Compression are as Follows: 

  • Bleeding disorders cause large clots to accumulate around the cord 
  • Certain bone diseases 
  • Abnormal spine alignment 
  • Tumours, benign and malignant (noncancerous and cancerous), occupy space, thus pressing the spinal cord
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that destroys the joints of the vertebra, thus reducing the space available in the cord 
  • Infections are caused mainly by viruses

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Compression

Spinal cord compression symptoms usually develop slowly and steadily over several years. Also, since nerve impulses are carried to various body parts, the range of symptoms varies. Unfortunately, this leads the patients to ignore the disease for prolonged periods, thus making irreversible changes to the spinal cord. Some common complaints seen are given below: 

  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and arms, or legs 
  • Weakness in the muscles of the arms, shoulder, or hands. There may be trouble grasping or holding daily-use objects
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Loss of dexterity in the hands 
  • Loss of feeling in the feet 
  • Loss of fine motor skills like buttoning clothes, picking up fine objects, needling the thread, feeding oneself, and difficulty in writing

Some symptoms require immediate medical attention, like the following: 

  • Loss of bowel and bladder control 
  • Numbness and burning pain in the back of the thigh and legs

These are the symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome, in which the spinal cord compression leads to nerve roots getting squeezed. This affects all body motor and sensory functions, especially the ones in the lower half. 

Additional Read: Important Factors of Scoliosis 

Spinal Cord Compression Diagnosis

A thorough physical examination by the neurologist, who will look into the body's reflexes and analyze the severity of numbness and loss of coordination, is the first step, followed by imaging tests to study the extent of the damage. From a physician or medical professional's perspective, any changes in the patient's motor skills can be considered while reporting the disease. In addition, any atrophy or muscle deterioration can be included as a risk sign.

While the X-Ray shows the dense structures only, like the alignment of bone, a magnetic resonance imagining or an MRI scan can show whether the soft tissues are damaged, like the herniated disk and the bulging.

CT Scan shows the narrowing of the canal and the bone spurs in much more detail than the plain X-ray. A myelogram is a special type of CT scan where a contrast dye is injected into the spinal canal to make the spinal cord and the nerve roots appear more clearly.

Spinal Cord Compression Prevention and Help

On this Spinal Cord Injury Day, let's learn more about how we can prevent spinal cord compression. It should be noted that spinal cord compression occasionally happens abruptly without an initial trigger. Preventing such an injury is difficult; one can hope to be safe and protective of their body to avoid it. 

  • Natural ways of reducing compression are by taking calcium supplements and vitamin D
  • Get regular exercise with breaks in between for the spine to avoid too much pressure
  • Stretch once in a while if you are in a sitting job to help the back muscle support your spine
  • Maintaining good posture and safely lifting heavy objects 
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Avoid smoking  
  • Weight-bearing and strength-building exercises
Spinal Cord Injury Day

Spinal Cord Compression Treatment and Cure

On Spinal Cord Injury Day, you must know how to treat the condition. The milder cases of spinal compression can be managed by nonsurgical means. This treatment aims to decrease pain and improve the level of daily activity. Unfortunately, there is no definite cure for spinal cord compression, but ways to reduce the effect are present. Here are other methods to find relief during a bad strike of pain by spinal cord compression: 

  • Soft cervical collar: This is a padded ring to wrap around the neck to limit neck motion and provide rest to the neck muscles 
  • Physical therapy: Specific neck strengthening exercises help increase flexibility and help maintain endurance so that you can perform daily activities easily

Know some medications that can help spinal cord compression on Spinal Cord Injury Day.

  • NSAIDs: Anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen may relieve inflammation and pain
  • Oral corticosteroids: A short course of these can reduce pain. 
  • Epidural steroid injection: An injection that is given in the space of spinal nerves/ epidural space. This injection induces a faster effect with pain relief 
  • Narcotics: On rare occasions in patients with severe pain that is not relieved by any other sources, narcotics are used for short durations  
Additional Read: Bursitis: Causes and Symptoms

Surgical Treatment

In some instances, deemed eligible for surgery, the doctor may suggest a treatment which helps relieve pressure on the spine and create more space in the spinal canal. 

This Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day 2022, make sure to take care of your spinal health to prevent conditions like spinal cord compression. Get an online doctor consultation from Bajaj Finserv Health for any queries or concerns. With the convenience and safety this offers, you can start taking the best care of your health on this Spinal Cord Injury Day!

Published on 2 Sep 2022Last updated on 13 Apr 2023
  1. https://www.usaspinecare.com/back_problems/degenerative_spine/what_causes/#:~:text=While%20normal%20strain%20on%20the%20spine%20is%20typically,debilitating%20pain%20and%20other%20symptoms%20if%20left%20untreated.

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


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