A spinal injury can be life-changing. Even in cases where damage to the spine does not cause paraplegia or tetraplegia, the likelihood of some form of impairment, such as reduced mobility, problems with bladder and bowel or sexual function, are fairly high.
Understanding the location of the lumbar spine
The spine consists of 33 vertebrae. These surround the important nerve tissues of the spinal cord and, together with various muscles and ligaments, act as a kind of scaffold for the upper body.
Spinal injuries are categorised on the basis of their location from the first vertebra (C1) down to the last (S5), as follows:
- Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries – C1-C7
- Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries – T1-T12
- Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries – L1-L5
- Sacral Spinal Injuries – S1-S5
Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries – L1-L5: If damage occurs to the spinal cord and/or vertebrae in the lumbar region there may be impairment to the function of the legs, hips, groin and lower abdominal muscles as well as the bowel and bladder.
The lumbar spine in detail
The lumbar spine is situated in the lower back, immediately below the thoracic spine and above the sacral spine. It is made up of five vertebrae.
L1 & L2 vertebrae hold spinal cord tissue and nerves, which serve as the control pathway between the brain and the legs. This does not mean that damage to L3, L4 or L5 is not serious; it can still adversely impact the function of the hips, legs and feet and may also cause sciatica or, more seriously, damage to the nerve roots of the spinal cord (cauda equina).
An injury to the lumbar spinal cord is likely to affect the hips, groin, abdominal muscles and, in some cases, the legs. Damage to nerves linked to specific vertebrae may have the following impact:
- L1 and L2: Impaired hip bending and flexing
- L3: Impaired knee function
- L4: Impaired foot function
- L5 Impaired toe function
However, it is important to note that depending on whether the damage sustained is complete or incomplete, the injury may affect only one or both sides of the body. The extent of the damage will affect the severity of the symptoms experienced by the injured person. A complete injury is when the nerves have been fully severed and there is no capability for electrical impulses to travel further down the spinal cord. An incomplete injury means that although impaired, some nerve impulses will be able to travel along the spinal cord past the point of the injury.
Lumbar spine injuries
Most lumbar spinal cord injuries do not result in significant loss of independence, with most patients still able to walk short distances or to self-control a wheelchair. However, many do suffer significantly reduced mobility, muscle weakness and continuing nerve pain.
Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is one potential serious complication of a lumbar spine injury. With CES, nerve damage can cause urinary incontinence, reduced bowel function and paralysis of the legs. In most CES cases surgery is required, with earlier intervention typically leading to better outcomes.
How do lumbar spinal cord injuries occur?
Spine and spinal cord damage can occur in many types of incident; however, the claims most commonly handled by Thompsons' spinal injury solicitors involve the following:
- Road traffic accidents
- Cycling accidents
- Falls from height
- Slips and trips
- Accidents in the workplace
- Sports accidents
Thompsons Spinal Injury Solicitors
If you or someone close to you has suffered a spinal injury, the accident claim solicitors at Thompsons can help you seek compensation to assist with the practical and financial consequences. This may include the following:
- Home and car adaptations
- Lost earnings
- Medical equipment
- Healthcare, including private rehabilitation and therapy
While Thompsons' spinal injury solicitors cannot turn back the clock, we can help you weather the post-accident situation. By making a compensation claim with us, you will be supported throughout the process of trying to achieve as much practical and financial help as possible to help you successfully manage your injury and rehabilitation
Although we prioritise securing you the fullest settlement possible, we also strive to secure interim damages in order to help you attend to your immediate needs, and because our spinal injury solicitors offer a No Win No Fee claims service, you are financially protected through the claims process.
Contact Thompsons team of spinal injury solicitors today to see if we could help you make a claim. Call us on 0800 0891 331 or fill in our contact form so we can discuss your options.