Spinal Cord Injury

Also known as: acute trauma to spinal cord, pinched nerve, disc pain, radicular pain, herniated disc, bulging disc

What is a spinal cord injury?

The spinal cord is a group of nerves that run down the back of a person (protected by the bony spinal column- back bones) that carries messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Acute spinal cord injury in children is fairly uncommon (about 5% of all such injuries), frequently occurs in adolescents/ young adults and are often male.

Herniated discs in children (usually adolescents) are often (approximately half) found incidentally when looking to diagnose some other problem and is the bulging of the vertebral disc that is found between two vertebrae.  

Back pain can come in a variety of forms, ranging from mild to severe, and from a fairly large number of causes.

What causes disc herniation?

There are a lot of causes of spinal cord injury in infants and children. In some cases, the spinal cord injury occurs during birth, and sometimes an infectious abscess forms on the cord. In older children an injury such as a fall, car crash or sports-related injury may occur.

Herniated discs in children can occur without any cause, or associated with some injury to the spine.

What are the signs and symptoms of spinal cord injuries in children?

Depending on where, how badly and when the examination of the infant/child occurs, signs and symptoms of spinal cord injury will vary. Loss of feeling and weakness of muscles with loss of some body functions like breathing difficulties and loss of bladder and bowel function are common.

May children with herniated discs have no signs or symptoms. When symptoms do occur, pain and/or tingling and weakness may be present.

What are the treatment options for spinal cord injury?

Treatment of spinal cord injuries, herniated discs or back pain will depend on a number of factors and their severity. The full range of pediatric specialists and treatments necessary for the best results can be obtained at Nicklaus Children's Hospital.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 11/27/2019 1:57:53 PM

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