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Spinal Cord Injury


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The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that carries messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Injury to the spinal cord disrupts these messages, causing decreased or total loss of movement, sensation, and function below the level of injury.

Acute spinal cord injury (SCI) is trauma from a contusion (bruise), a partial tear, or complete tear (transection) in the cord. Depending on where it happens, an acute spinal cord injury can cause:

  • Muscle weakness, paralysis, or loss of feeling in the trunk (torso), arms, and/or legs
  • Muscle spasticity (tight or rigid muscles)
  • Breathing problems
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms and legs
  • Problems with heart rate and blood pressure
  • Digestive problems
  • Loss of bowel and bladder function
  • Problems with sexual function

Care from one of our physiatrists (physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors) starts in the hospital a day or two after an acute spinal cord injury. Our rehabilitation team will coordinate non-surgical treatment and continue managing care throughout recovery in the hospital, and beyond.


During this test, you will receive an injection of saline into your disc(s) under image-guidance, either using CT or fluoroscopy (dynamic X-ray) technology. This is done to provoke any pain and/or abnormal response. It can show abnormal nerve pathways generating pain inside the injured/degenerated disc.

Electroneurophysiological testing is done with current and electrodes to determine nerve and muscle function/dysfunction and damage. Tests include electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS).


Neurostimulation, also called electrical stimulation, uses low-voltage electricity to stop the nerve impulses that cause pain. Examples include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), applied on the skin over nerve endings, and spinal cord stimulation (SCS), which is inserted under the skin.

Interventional spine procedures
These procedures use image-guided technology to deliver steroids and medications right to the pain source. Selective epidural injections, cervical facet injections, cervical selective nerve blocks, and discograms reduce pain and inflammation in the neck. This treatment is usually prescribed with physical therapy or exercise.

Ultrasound-guided injections
Ultrasound imaging allows doctors to view nerves, bones, tendons, and muscles. Combining this technology with injection therapy means we can deliver medicines to the exact trigger point to relieve pain and inflammation. Steroids and platelet-rich plasma injections are commonly used to treat neuromusculoskeletal pain.

Radiofrequency ablation
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure that uses heat from radio waves to damage nerve tissues, disrupting their ability to send pain signals. This is performed on the facet joints in the spine.

Why Choose UHealth?

Research breakthroughs in spinal cord injuries. You know you’re getting the most up-to-date treatments and care because we’re actively discovering new and better ways to prevent and restore function after spinal cord injury. Our onsite research is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.

Internationally-recognized Spine Institute in South Florida. The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is part of the renowned Spine Institute which means you get care from the most trusted and experienced rehabilitation providers in South Florida.

Multispecialty care with teams built around your condition. Our rehabilitation team works closely with neurologists, neurosurgeons, pulmonologists, urologists, and others to customize your treatment plan. You have access to leading-edge non-surgical and minimally invasive therapies for pain. And, you get a faster diagnosis and better care when we’re all working together for you.

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