Decoding Spinal Injuries – Types and Effects

Decoding Spinal Injuries – Types and Effects

Your spine does an amazing job. It supports your head, shoulders and upper body. It enables you to stand, bend and twist. And it protects your spinal cord, the tight bundle of nerves that connects your brain to your body. 

Your spine includes: 

  • Bones (vertebrae) and joints
  • Shock-absorbing discs, which sit between the vertebrae
  • The spinal cord and many nerves branching from it
  • Supporting muscles and ligaments that help stabilise your spine. 

While the spine is well-protected, it’s not invincible. Spinal injuries can and do happen. Let’s look at a few of the most common and how brain-based therapies may help recovery.  

Types of spinal injuries

Spinal injuries can happen after a trauma like a car accident, a bad fall, a sporting collision or other physical stress. Trauma can affect any part of your spine and any one of its structures, such as the vertebrae, discs or nerves. 

Spinal fracture

A spinal fracture is a dislocation or fracture of your vertebrae, the bony building blocks of your spine. Fractures usually happen after a high-velocity impact. 

The main types of fractures are: 

    • Compression fractures – usually caused by conditions like osteoporosis or a tumour that causes deterioration in the front of the vertebrae only, make it look like a wedge
  • Burst fractures – the vertebrae break in multiple directions
  • Chance fracture – the vertebrae pull apart due to a violent forward movement (such as a car accident). 

Symptoms of a spinal fracture include:

  • Neck or back pain
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Weakness or paralysis of the limbs
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of continence. 

Minor fractures may heal with rest and medication. More significant ones will usually require surgery. 

Herniated discs

Soft discs sit between each bony vertebra, absorbing shock and enabling movement. Each disc has an outer cover and a soft gel-like centre. 

Sometimes, though, the outer cover tears and the gel-like substance insides are pushed out – known as a herniated disc. When that gel-like substance touches the nearby spinal nerves, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as: 

  • Burning or stinging
  • Pain or tingling in your neck
  • Radiating pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Muscle weakness
  • Changes in sensation
  • Nerve irritation. 

There are many different causes of disc herniation (including your age and weight), but accidents, injuries and traumas play a big role. And it’s not always something as big as a car crash or a skiing accident. Discs sometimes herniate when you strain your back twisting, turning or lifting something heavy. 

Herniated disc treatment may involve physiotherapy or surgery.

Spinal cord injuries

The spinal cord is a tightly packed column of nerve tissue that begins in your brain stem and runs down through your spinal column, carrying nerve signals from your brain to other parts of your body. 

Your spinal cord is small (only about 1 cm wide) yet vital. It’s the information superhighway between your brain and your body – the way your brain commands your muscles to move. 

That’s why a spinal cord injury can cause loss of function, feeling and mobility. Spinal cord injuries may cause partial or total paralysis. Some spinal cord injuries may improve over time with the right treatment. Others are permanent. 


Fibromyalgia is not a spine injury – but it may be triggered by one. Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes widespread pain. 

While it’s not yet well understood, fibromyalgia is thought to be related to abnormal levels of some brain chemicals and changes in the way the central nervous system (your brain, spinal cord and nerves) processes pain messages. 

Spinal rehabilitation at Neurofit Brain Centre

Spinal rehabilitation is the process of getting you back to your normal level of fitness (or as close as possible) after a spinal injury.

Your brain has an amazing ability to adapt and learn in response to the right stimulus. This process is called neuroplasticity – and it underpins our approach to spinal rehabilitation. 

Our toolkit includes many evidence-based therapies designed to stimulate the chosen area of the brain. Often, we’ll use several of these at once (co-activation), giving your brain the maximum opportunity to form new neural pathways and strengthen itself.

If you’d like to learn more, we encourage you to book an appointment


All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Neurofit Brain Centre can consult with you to confirm if a particular treatment approach is right for you.