According to spine surgeon in Delhi, a spinal cord injury is, as the name implies, any type of damage caused to the spinal cord, which is a fundamental part of the central nervous system. These injuries can occur when there is damage to the cells within the spinal cord or when the nerves that run up and down the spinal cord are injured. Many causes can be involved in a possible spinal cord injury.
The spinal cord
The spinal cord passes through the neck and back and is protected by the spine, which provides support for the trunk and other surrounding structures. The spinal cord is also surrounded by so-called vertebral discs, which serve as shock absorbers when walking, running or jumping. It is thanks to these discs, too, that the spine can be flexed or extended.
The spinal cord is a fundamental part of the central nervous system, also composed of the brain. Here, the brain works primarily to receive nerve impulses from the spinal cord and cranial nerves. The marrow contains the nerves that carry neurological messages from the brain to the rest of the body.
An injury to the spinal cord can be caused by several different reasons. Look:
- Bullet or knife wound
- Direct trauma to the face, neck, head, chest or back
- Car accident
- Electric shock
- Extreme contortion of the central part of the body
- Fall on the head during a sports injury
- Fall from a great height.
The main risk factors that can lead to a spinal cord injury include participating in dangerous physical activities, not using personal protective equipment during these activities and diving in shallow water.
Osteoporosis can weaken the spine bones, facilitating the occurrence of a spinal cord injury. Patients suffering from other medical conditions that make them more susceptible to falls due to weakness or incoordination (a stroke, for example) are also more prone to trauma in that region.
Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury
The symptoms of a spinal cord injury vary depending on the area where the trauma occurred. These injuries usually cause weakness and sensory loss at and below the site. The intensity of the symptoms depends on the severity of the injury, that is, whether the spinal cord is severe or completely injured or only partially.
Some symptoms are common, regardless of the injury site, they are:
- Loss of normal bowel and bladder control (with the possibility of constipation, urinary incontinence and bladder spasms)
- Sensory changes
- Spasticity (increased muscle tone)
- Weakness and paralysis.
Check the main symptoms according to the injury site:
Cervical injuries (neck)
When spinal cord injuries occur in the neck area, where they are classified as cervical injuries, symptoms can mainly affect the arms, legs and the central part of the body. Symptoms can appear on one or both sides of the body and usually include:
- Breathing difficulties due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles, (especially when the injury occurs in the upper part of the neck)
Thoracic injuries (thorax)
When the injury occurs at the level of the chest, the symptoms mainly affect the legs. Injuries to the cervical cord or upper thoracic cord can also result in blood pressure problems, abnormal sweating and problems with maintaining normal body temperature.
Lumbosacral injuries (lower back)
When spinal cord injuries occur in the lower back, symptoms of various levels can affect one or both legs and can also affect the muscles that control the intestines and bladder.
Diagnosis and Exams
Management of the spinal cord injury begins where it occurred, with paramedics immobilizing the injured spine to prevent further damage to the nervous system.
The main purpose of first aid procedures is to keep the person immobile and safe until the arrival of the specialized medical team and spine surgeon in Delhi.
- Try to keep the person’s head and neck in the position in which they were found. Do not attempt to reposition the neck and do not allow the neck to be bent or turned. Any unattended movement can worsen the injury and lead to more serious complications that, previously, could have possibly been prevented.
Take care, too, that the person does not get up or walk without assistance.
If the person is unconscious, check their breathing and circulation. If necessary, begin artificial respiration and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
If the person needs to be turned on his side, because he is either vomiting or choking on blood, at least two people are needed for this to be done. There must be a lot of contact. While one person stands on the injured person’s head, the other person must remain beside him. It is very important to keep the head, neck and back aligned while the person is turned.
Seeking medical help
Get an emergency room right away if you or someone close to you suffers a back injury. If there is damage to the spinal cord, especially loss of movement or sensitivity, pay attention to first aid procedures and contact the emergency immediately.
In the medical consultation
Being prepared for the consultation with a spine surgeon in Delhi can facilitate the diagnosis and optimize the time. That way, you can already reach the consultation with some information:
- A list of all symptoms and how long ago they appeared
- Medical history, including other conditions the patient has and medications or supplements he takes regularly
- If possible, ask someone to accompany you.
The spine surgeon in Delhi will probably ask a series of questions, such as:
- How did the injury happen?
- What are the symptoms?
- Did you notice loss of sensation or movement?
- Where is the injury site?
- Has the patient ever been diagnosed with any other bone medical condition, such as osteoporosis?
- Does the patient practice physical activities that can put the physical integrity of the spinal cord at risk?.
A spinal cord injury is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. The spine surgeon in Delhi will perform a physical and neurological examination. This will help to identify the exact location of the injury, if it has not already happened. Some reflexes may be irregular or absent, but some may return slowly as the swelling subsides.
The following exams can be ordered:
- Computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the spine to show the location and extent of the trauma and reveal problems, such as blood clots (bruises)
- Myelogram (an X-ray of the spine after injecting a dye) may be necessary, but only in rare cases. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are usually enough to identify the location and severity of the injury
- Magnetic stimulation tests can show whether nerve signals are still able to pass through the spinal cord
- Spine radiographs can also show fractures or injuries to the spine bones.
Treatment and Care
Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury By Spine Surgeon in Delhi
A spinal cord injury is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment to reduce long-term effects. The time it takes to start treatment after the injury has occurred is a fundamental factor that directly affects the outcome and the effectiveness of the treatment.
Corticosteroids are commonly used to minimize inflammation that can damage the spinal cord. If the compression in the spinal cord is caused by a hematoma or a fragment of bone, which can be removed or reduced before the nerves are completely destroyed, paralysis can be minimized. Ideally, corticosteroids should be administered immediately after the injury occurs.
Surgery may be necessary to:
- Remove liquids or tissues that press on the spinal cord
- Remove bone fragments, disc fragments or foreign bodies
- Fuse fractured bones or implant prostheses in the spine.
Absolute rest is necessary for the bones of the spine, which carry most of the body’s weight, to fully recover.
Spinal traction may also be recommended. This helps the spine not to move. Prostheses may need to be used for a long time.
The spine surgeon in Delhi will provide information on muscle spasms, skin care and bladder and bowel dysfunction.
Extensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions, in addition to other rehabilitation therapies, will be required after the acute injury has healed. Rehabilitation helps a person cope with a disability from trauma to the spinal cord.
Living / Prognosis
If there is paralysis, regardless of whether it is temporary or not, some changes in daily life can be made to facilitate patient accessibility. Physiotherapy is also an essential part of this process, as well as support groups and consultations with a psychologist.
The use of medications can also be done, especially in case of pain. Consult a neurologist in Delhi to find out which ones are best for you.
An injury to the spinal cord can progress to several complications. Check out:
- Changes in blood pressure that can be extreme (such as autonomic hyperreflexia)
- Chronic kidney failure
- Lung infections
- Skin lesions
- High risk of injury to numb areas of the body
- High risk of urinary tract infections
- Urinary incontinence
- Loss of sensation
- Loss of sexual functioning (male impotence)
- Muscle spasticity
- Respiratory muscle paralysis
- Paralysis (paraplegia, quadriplegia – depending on where the injury occurred)
Non-hospitalized people with spinal cord injuries should follow some tips to avoid complications, such as daily lung care. Following instructions on bladder care to prevent infections and kidney damage is also recommended. In addition, taking care of wounds prevents the appearance of ulcers on the skin. A patient who has suffered a spinal cord injury must also keep his immune system strengthened and must always be present at medical appointments with a spine surgeon in Delhi.
Is spinal cord injury curable?
Paralysis and loss of sensation in some parts of the body are common – from total paralysis or numbness to varying degrees of loss of sensation or movement. The injury can result in death, especially if there is paralysis of the breathing muscles.
The level of the injury affects the degree of recovery of the patient. Injuries close to the upper spine area cause disabilities that are more disabling than those that occur in the lower area. But when a movement or sensation recovers within a week after the injury has occurred, it usually indicates good chances of recovery from other functions – although this may take an indeterminate amount of time. Recovery usually takes about six months or more. Symptoms that persist for more than six months are likely to be permanent.
Routine bowel care often takes more than an hour a day.
Preventing accidents and using safety equipment helps prevent spinal cord injuries, such as wearing seat belts, helmets and other essential parts – depending on the activity being performed.
Avoiding drinking alcoholic beverages before driving, for example, is a good preventive measure. Do not dive into swimming pools, rivers, lakes and the like in which you cannot determine the depth of the waters is also recommended since diving in rare waters is one of the biggest causes of trauma in the spinal cord region.