Spinal Cord Injury Information
Your upper back or middle back is called the thoracic spine and it’s what anchors your rib cage offering stability and protection for your vital organs in the chest. Your thoracic spine begins just under the neck and consists of twelve vertebrae that run down the back of your torso.
When you feel pain in your upper back, it is usually due to one of these two reasons:
- Muscle irritation. The large upper back muscles that attach to your shoulder blade and the back of your rib cage are susceptible to producing painful tightness or strains. This can be due to overuse or lack of strength.
- Joint dysfunction. Whether from deterioration due to aging or from a sudden injury, the joints in the thoracic spine may develop some dysfunction and pain.
It’s possible that upper back pain can be from an injury that has caused spinal cord damage.
What Are Spinal Cord Injuries
When damage is caused to any area of the spinal cord or nerves which results in a permanent change in sensation, strength and other functions, it is considered a spinal cord injury (SCI).
Depending on the degree of the injury, SCI can sometimes cause loss of body functions, paralysis of the muscles and even neurological deficits. For people who live with spinal cord injury symptoms, probably the most vital part of their care is in preventing complications from the injury.
Symptoms and Red Flags of a Spinal Cord Injury
If someone has had an accident, some emergency symptoms may include:
- Tingling, numbness or loss of sensation in feet, toes, hands or fingers
- Impaired breathing
- Extreme back pain
- Pressure in the head, back or neck
- Difficulty with walking or balance
- Oddly twisted or positioned back or neck
- Paralysis, weakness or loss of coordination in any part of the body
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
Anytime a person has significant trauma to the neck or head, he or she should be seen by a medical professional for an evaluation for spinal injury. It may be wise to assume there is a SCI until it is proven otherwise.
The most common causes of SCI nationally are:
- Car Accidents
- Violent Acts
- Sports Injuries
Physical Therapy After Spinal Cord Injury
The good news in that our Rocky Point physical therapists are experienced and highly trained in assisting patients in relieving pain, regaining motion and reclaiming their life after a SCI. The areas affected from a thoracic spinal cord injury include the muscles in the upper chest, hands, legs, body trunk, and abdomen. Physical Therapy treatment may include:
- Working on mobility skills such as transferring, balance, standing and pivoting
- Building endurance
- Building strength of trunk, wrist, elbow and shoulder
- Maximizing sensory and motor function recovery
- Prevention of secondary health issues or complications
- Assistance in reintegrating with society
When should you see a physical therapist? People who have suffered a spinal cord injury can benefit from physical therapy treatment. PT’s are the authoritative experts on how the body moves, heals and functions. We know how the nerves make new connections, what helps muscles get stronger and the science to exercises to help you get better.
Life does not need to end after a spinal cord injury. It doesn’t matter the level of severity or paralysis, our physical therapists can help you improve your balance, standing, sitting, limb strength and movement ability.