The spine (vertebral column) is made up of a number of small bones called a vertebrae arranged one above another. The spine is supported by many strong ligaments and the muscles of the trunk. It protects the spinal cord and contained within it. The spinal cord is delicate and if damaged, loss of sensation or power can occur in parts of the body below the injured area, e.g. upper limbs, lower limbs. Permanent damage will result if the cord is partially or completely transected.
Fractures of the vertebrae can be caused by both direct and indirect force. Neck and lower are two areas in spinal column most vulnerable to injuries. If it is a violent forward bending, a backward bending or a twisting injury of the spine, it is likely to causes of spinal injury are as follows.
- Awkward fill at gymnastics.
- Diving into a shallow pool.
- Fall from a height.
- Fall from a horse or 8 motor cycles.
- Fall of a heavy object on the back e.g. roof-fall.
- Head-on crash of a motor vehicle.
- Trauma to the head or face.
- Whiplash injury.
- Jarring of spine by a fall on die feet, buttocks or head from a height.
The condition is diagnosed by the following features.
- Severe pain in back.
- Irregularity may be felt over the spine.
- Tenderness on gently feeling the spine.
- Features of injury to the spinal cord.
- Loss of sensation of skin below the level of injury.
- Loss of control over limbs.
- Abnormal sensations: tingling burning, limbs feel heavy, stiff, or clumsy.
- Difficulty with breathing.
- Do not move the head in neutral position.
- Instruct the victim not to move.
- In case of suspicion of neck injury, place rolled blankets other articles around the neck and shoulders to steady the neck and prevent its movement.
- Shift him to a hospital immediately. Transport on a rigid stretcher with face upwards. The canvas stretcher must make hard surfaced by short boards the placed across the structure or a long board itself may be used if a stretcher is not available. Place small pillows under the neck and the small of the back so that the hollow of neck and the rest in the normal position. The position of the casualty must not be disturbed when loading to the stretcher.One person hold the head firmly but gently. Another person must hold the legs just the ankles so as not to disturb the trunk.