How Does Spinal Cord Injury Affect The Body

spinal cord injury affect the body-Orthos Centre-Dr. shrikant dalal Orthopedic surgeon in baner

The spinal cord is a crucial communication pathway connecting the brain and the rest of the body. It transmits nerve signals that control muscle movement, sensation, and various bodily functions. When the spinal cord is injured, these signals are disrupted, leading to a range of impairments depending on the location and severity of the injury.

Understanding the Levels of Spinal Cord Injury

To understand the effects of spinal cord injury on the body, it’s important to consider the different levels of the spinal cord:

  • Cervical (neck): Injuries at this level can lead to paralysis of all four limbs (tetraplegia), loss of bladder and bowel control, and difficulty breathing.
  • Thoracic (chest): Injuries here typically cause paralysis in the legs (paraplegia), loss of sensation and control in the trunk and legs, and potential issues with bladder and bowel function.
  • Lumbar (lower back): Injuries at this level can affect partial paralysis in the legs, difficulty controlling bladder and bowel function, and sensory loss in the legs and feet.
  • Sacral (tailbone): Injuries here often involve bowel and bladder dysfunction and sensory loss in the area around the saddle region.

Impact of Spinal Cord Injury on Different Body Functions

  • Movement:
    Spinal cord injuries can lead to varying degrees of paralysis, affecting the ability to move muscles below the level of the injury. This can impact mobility, daily activities, and overall independence.
  • Sensation:
    Damage to the spinal cord can lead to sensory loss, including numbness, tingling, and complete loss of feeling in the affected areas. This can affect balance, coordination, and the ability to perceive pain or temperature changes.
  • Bladder and bowel function:
    Nerve signals controlling bladder and bowel function can be disrupted by spinal cord injuries, leading to incontinence, difficulty emptying the bowels, and other problems.
  • Sexual function:
    Spinal cord injuries can affect sexual response and fertility in both men and women.
  • Skin health:
    Paralysis can increase the risk of pressure sores due to prolonged pressure on certain areas of the skin.
  • Respiratory function:
    High-level spinal cord injuries can affect breathing muscles, potentially requiring respiratory support.
  • Cardiovascular system:
    Spinal cord injuries can affect blood pressure regulation, body temperature control, and heart function.
  • Emotional well-being:
    Spinal cord injuries can have a significant impact on mental health, causing depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Managing the Effects of Spinal Cord Injury

While the effects of spinal cord injury can be debilitating, there are various strategies to help individuals manage their condition and improve their quality of life. These include:

  • Rehabilitation: Comprehensive rehabilitation programs can help individuals regain lost function, strengthen remaining muscles, and learn new ways to perform daily activities.
  • Assistive technology: Various assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers, and specialized equipment, can enhance mobility and independence.
  • Medications: Medications can help manage pain, spasticity, and other symptoms associated with spinal cord injury.
  • Support groups: Connecting with others who understand the challenges of living with spinal cord injury can provide valuable support and encouragement.


Suffering from a spinal cord injury can significantly influence various facets of an individual’s life. By comprehending the potential repercussions on diverse bodily functions and actively pursuing proper medical attention, rehabilitation, and support, those dealing with spinal cord injuries can enhance their recovery and lead satisfying lives. For personalized care, it’s crucial to consult a skilled spine specialist who can provide expert guidance tailored to individual needs.