The spinal cord is primarily a long bundle of nerves running from the brain down the back. It is surrounded and protected by vertebra, the bones that stack one on top of another to form the spinal column.
Many spinal problems are birth defects. Spinal cord problems can also result from disease. These issues are distinct from spinal cord injury, which is damage as a result of some trauma, such as a car accident, a gunshot, a fall, etc.
Most spinal cord injuries are not fully severed spinal cords but damage to the cord from broken vertebra or movement and/or rupture of the cushions between the vertebra (disks). These injuries may tear the spinal cord or put pressure on its nerves.
Because the spinal cord is such a critical highway of nerves, damage here can result in permanent disability, including paralysis in parts of the body.
Treating spinal injury quickly is important: rapid treatment may improve long-term outcomes.