Spinal injuries can affect a person's ability to perform even the most basic tasks. Furthermore, they can occur in many circumstances, including car and motorcycle accidents, cycling accidents, falls from height, accidents in the workplace and in sporting accidents.
While spinal injuries in the lowest region of the spine, the sacral spine, are unlikely to cause loss of limb motor function, they may still result in debilitation and loss of function in the bowel, bladder and sexual organs.
Understanding the location of the sacral spine
The spine is made up of 33 vertebrae which surround the important nervous tissue of the spinal cord. Together with various muscles and ligaments, the vertebrae act as a kind of scaffold for the upper body.
Spinal injuries are categorised on the basis of their location down the backbone. This is 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
Sacral Spinal Injuries – S1-S5: The sacrum is the triangle-shaped bone situated at the base of the spine, below the lumbar vertebrae and above the tailbone. It consists of five segments, S1 - S5. Injuries to this location affect the function of the lower part of the body.
The sacral spine in detail
The sacral spine does not include any portion of spinal cord; vertebra L2 in the lumbar spine is the lowest location of the spinal cord. However, injury to the sacral spine region can still cause damage to the nerve root and may result in dysfunction in the following ways:
- S1: impairment to the hips and groin
- S2: impairment to the thighs
- S3: impairment in the area of the medial buttock
- S4 & S5: affecting the perineal area (between the anus and genitals)
Sacral spine injury – incidence and impact
Because of its location lower down the spine, injuries to the sacral spine are often less severe than those situated further up. Furthermore, because nerve compression in the sacral spine is relatively rare, there is a lower rate of traumatic injury in this area. However, injuries can and do occur, including injury to motor function pathways which reduces sensation in the rectal and perineal areas.
Tests, such as the sacral sparing test, will show whether any spinal injury is complete or incomplete – positive sacral sparing results offer hope that a patient will recover some sensation and motor ability.
It is also important to note that although the sacral spine does not contain any spinal cord, damage to the nerve roots in around the sacrum may result in symptoms that are similar to those caused by spinal cord damage.
In the majority of cases involving injury to the sacral spine, the patient will still be able to walk, albeit with some impairment to the hips and/or groin. However, injuries to the sacral spine frequently result in reduced or complete loss of bladder or bowel control. In some cases, there may be some degree of loss of sexual function.
Thompsons Spinal Injury Solicitors
Making a claim with Thompsons' spinal injury solicitors means we can help you secure your financial situation by helping you seek the damages to which you are entitled. This can help you manage the practical and financial fallout caused by your injury while also ensuring you receive the best possible treatment, care and rehabilitation.
We also seek, whenever possible, 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 stay financially protected at all times.
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.