Injuries to the spinal cord are very serious and can lead to partial or full paralysis. Even if you maintain function of your extremities, spinal cord injuries can affect your strength, sensations or other bodily actions. Here’s a closer look at spinal cord injuries and how they are best treated.
Causes and Symptoms For Spinal Cord Injuries
Your spinal cord is protected by your vertebrae and your spinal canal, which means it generally takes a significant action to damage your spinal cord. The most common cause of a spinal cord injury is from the acute force of an automobile accident. Falls from a height or trauma during athletic activity are two other ways thousands of people injure their spinal cord every year. Unfortunately, there are also people who suffer spinal cord injuries as the result of physical violence from weapons like knives or firearms.
Symptoms of a spinal cord injury include:
- Inhibited or loss of limb movement
- Loss or limited sensation
- Loss of bladder control
- Muscle spasms
- Sexual dysfunction
- Pain ranging from minor to intense sensations
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness or tingling sensation
Treating Spinal Cord Injuries
Due to the nature of the injury, spinal cord injuries should be evaluated by a neurosurgeon or spine specialist as soon as possible. The sooner the injury is diagnosed and addressed, the better the chance the damage can be contained and dysfunction limited. Diagnosing a spinal cord injury will typically be done by an imaging test. An x-ray can help to determine if you’re dealing with spinal fractures or disc damage, while an MRI or CT scan will usually be used to look for signs of a spinal cord injury.
If a severe spinal cord injury is revealed, surgery will likely be performed. The goal of surgery is to stabilize the injury site and preserve as much function as possible. The success of the surgical operation depends on a number of different factors, only some of which are controllable:
- The extent of the damage
- The location of the damage of the spinal cord
- How long it has been since the injury occurred
- The skill of the spine surgeon and the surgical team
If you have suffered a severe spine injury, time is of the essence. Trust your care to a team of dedicated surgical specialists. Contact Dr. Chang’s office for more information or to set up a surgical consultation today.