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First Aid Guide: Spinal Injury

TeamAckoJan 17, 2024

Spinal injuries can happen to anyone at any time. It is important to know how to respond in case of such an emergency, as quick and appropriate first aid can make a difference in the recovery of a person. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about first aid for Spinal Injury (SI).




What is a Spinal Injury?

A Spinal Injury refers to any damage or trauma to the spinal cord or the nerves located at the end of the spinal canal. It can be caused by a variety of accidents, such as falls, sports injuries, and car crashes. SIs can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. First aid for SI should always be sought as quickly as possible to minimise further damage to the spine and the nervous system.

Symptoms of Spinal Injury

Spinal Injury can cause a range of symptoms, including the following.

  • Pain or pressure in the neck, back, or head.

  • Tingling or numbness in the hands, fingers, feet, or toes.

  • Loss of sensation or movement in any part of the body.

  • Difficulty breathing.

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control.

Quick action: First Aid for Spinal Injury

In case of a suspected SI, it is important to call for emergency medical assistance immediately. While waiting for medical help, the following first aid steps can be taken.

1. Keep the person still

It is important to keep the person as still as possible to prevent any further damage to the spine. Do not move the person unless it is absolutely necessary.

2. Keep the person's head and neck stable

If the person is unconscious or complaining of neck pain, keep their head and neck stable by placing your hands on both sides of their head.

3. Do not remove any helmets or other protective gear

If the person is wearing a helmet or other protective gear, do not remove it. These may help stabilise the person's head and neck.

4. Do not roll the person over

If the person is lying face down, do not attempt to roll them over. Instead, try to keep their head and neck as stable as possible until medical help arrives.

5. Support the person's body

If possible, support the person's body by placing pillows or rolled-up blankets on both sides of their body. This can help prevent any movement of the spine.

6. Monitor the person's breathing

Keep an eye on the person's breathing. If they stop breathing, begin CPR immediately.

Treatment of Spinal Injury

The treatment for a SI will depend on the severity and location of the injury. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove any bone fragments, foreign objects, or herniated discs that may be pressing on the spinal cord. Surgery may also be used to stabilise the spine and prevent further damage. Other treatment options may include medication for pain management and rehabilitation to improve movement and function.

In some cases, immobilisation of the spine using a brace or neck collar may be necessary to prevent further injury. During the immobilisation period, the patient may require assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating.

For minor spinal injuries, rest and physical therapy may be all that is necessary to help the patient recover. Physical therapy can help improve range of motion, strength, and flexibility. Additionally, it can help reduce pain and improve overall function.

It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a SI to prevent further damage and increase the chances of successful treatment and recovery.

Prevention of Spinal Injury

Prevention of Spinal Injury involves taking proactive steps to reduce the risk of injury to the spinal cord and surrounding tissues. Some of the ways to prevent SI include the following. 

  • Practice safe driving: Always wear a seatbelt and ensure that children are properly restrained in the car. Avoid distractions while driving, such as texting or using your phone.

  • Use proper lifting techniques: When lifting heavy objects, bend your knees and use your leg muscles to lift, instead of bending at the waist. Avoid twisting or turning while lifting.

  • Wear protective gear: When engaging in sports or other physical activities, wear appropriate safety gear such as helmets, knee and elbow pads, and mouthguards.

  • Maintain good posture: Poor posture can put additional stress on the spine and increase the risk of injury. Sit up straight, and avoid slouching or leaning forward.

  • Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help improve flexibility, strength, and balance, which can help reduce the risk of falls and other accidents.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions about first aid for Spinal Injury.


Can I move someone with a suspected Spinal Injury?

No, you should not move someone with a suspected SI unless it is absolutely necessary. Moving the person can cause further damage to the spine and nervous system.

How can I stabilise someone's head and neck?

You can stabilise someone's head and neck by placing your hands on both sides of their head and holding it still. If the person is wearing a helmet or other protective gear, do not remove it.

Can I roll someone over if they are lying face down?

No, you should not attempt to roll someone over if they are lying face down. Instead, try to keep their head and neck as stable as possible until medical help arrives.

What should I do if the person stops breathing?

If the person stops breathing, begin CPR immediately. If you are not trained in CPR, ask someone nearby to help or follow the instructions given by the emergency operator.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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