What Are the Differences Between Complete & Incomplete Spinal Injuries?

Spinal injuries in Los Angeles, CA

Damage to any part of the spine or any of the 31 pairs of nerves that go from the spinal cord to the rest of the body is referred to as a spine injury or spinal cord injury. Any issues with the spine are potentially serious, and a board-certified spine physician should diagnose and treat the injury as quickly as possible. The recommended treatment will depend on whether or not the spine injury is complete or incomplete.

Complete Injuries

A complete spine injury is one where there is no feeling or sensation at all. This is usually the result of severed or damaged nerves. The American Spinal Injury Association further defines a complete spine injury as one that includes:

  • No movement below the injury site
  • No control of the injured area (sacral sparing)
  • Lack of sensation below the injury area

Incomplete Injuries

An incomplete spinal injury is one where there is some level of sensation or movement below the site of the injury. More specifically, injuries of this nature include:

  • No movement below the injury site, but sacral sparing remains
  • Movement is weak in at least half of the muscles below the injury location
  • Sensation and sacral sparing is close to normal below the injury site

Diagnosis and Treatment

Extreme pain, weakness, numbness, and paralysis are among the most common symptoms associated with spine injuries. Diagnosis involves images tests and an assessment of symptoms a patient presents. Early immobilization and treatment often increase the odds of either recovering completely or regaining some degree of sensation and movement. Treatment may also involve:

  • Aggressive rehabilitation
  • Use of assistive devices
  • Spinal surgery to restore nerve connections

Spine injuries, whether complete or incomplete, are often due to some type of trauma, such as a hard fall or sudden impact. Preventative measures include wearing appropriate protective gear when playing sports, wearing seat belts, and being mindful of potential fall hazards.

If you have injured your spine, get in touch with Dr. Hyun Bae at The Spine Institute to get diagnosed and start focusing on a treatment that can help alleviate your pain. We specialize in spinal fusion procedures and alternatives to fusion such as the artificial disc replacement lumbar Los Angeles patients sometime need. Give us a call today at 310-828-7757 to learn more and to schedule an in-person evaluation.