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UC Davis Spine Center

UC Davis Spine Center

Spine trauma

What kinds of injuries result from spine trauma?

Trauma, or damage, to the spine can occur due to motor vehicle accidents, falls or violent attacks. These incidents can break the vertebrae (the bones that make up the spinal columns), damage the discs (spongy balloon-like sacs between vertebrae), tear the supporting muscles or ligaments, or injure the nerves of the spinal cord (the main link between the body and the brain) resulting in spinal cord injury (SCI).

Most individuals suffering severe spine trauma will require extensive specialized evaluation within UC Davis Health System. That evaluation often begins in the emergency room. As the region's only level 1 trauma center,  the health system is expertly equipped to handle even the most complicated cases.

How are traumas to the spine treated?

Where and how spine trauma is treated depends on the specific structure involved.

SCI requires special urgent care. Even if other damage has occurred, treating the SCI takes precedence. Often following hospitalization, the specialists from UC Davis' Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation are asked to assist spine center physicians with complex problems such as paralysis, bowel or bladder incontinence, breathing problems, or nerve pain. The health system has a nationally renowned physical medicine and rehabilitation residency program with board-certified specialists in the area of SCI and general rehabilitation.

For more specific information, see the individual specialty pages below.