Spinal cord injuries can come in a range of severity. The effects of the injury will always depend on the location and completeness of the damage to the spinal cord, according to the Mayo Clinic.
An injury could impact the feeling, strength and function of the body parts below the point of damage, and the extent of the impact can vary even with similar damage. So, not every spinal cord injury will produce paralysis.
Complete and incomplete
If you suffer a complete spinal injury, then you will have paralysis. An incomplete injury can vary as to what you feel and what function you retain.
Tetraplegia and paraplegia
If your injury is tetraplegia or quadriplegia, then it means paralysis may impact all limbs, your pelvic organs and your trunk. Paraplegia, on the other hand, can impact some of those parts of the body.
Other than paralysis, a spinal cord injury may cause you to lose feeling or have altered feeling in parts of your body below the damaged point. You may not have proper reflex actions. You may lose control of your bowel and/or bladder. An injury can also lead to feelings of pain due to nerve damage and may impact involuntary actions, such as breathing.
Your doctor will assess the damage to your spinal cord to determine the impact it will have on your movements and function. Even if you initially have paralysis, it may not always be permanent. Your medical provider may have you go through physical therapy or rehabilitation to allow you to regain lost function, but it does depend on the severity of the damage to your spinal cord.