Your spinal cord is a column of nerves that directly transmits autonomic, sensory and motor nerve impulses to and from your brain. This is a vital central nervous system coupling for the rest of your body because nothing is felt nor moved without nerve transmissions running up and down it. So a spinal cord injury or compression affects how and if you can move or feel.
Additional spinal damage may occur post injury because of bleeding, swelling, inflammation and fluid accumulation. This build up can cause spinal cord compression.
Although you may not immediately experience symptoms because spinal compression tends to manifest slowly. Spinal cord compression can be an aftermath of a hematoma, abscess, tumor or herniated disk as well.
Not all spinal cord injuries are caused by trauma, sometimes damage is brought about by or risk increases because of other health conditions like:
- spinal stenosis
- Paget’s disease
- spinal infections
- disk degeneration
- transverse myelitis
- rheumatoid arthritis
- spinal cord infarction
- ankylosing spondylitis
- metastasized bone cancer
- osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma
The affects of a spinal cord injury may cause damage to only a few nerve fibers with an outcome of almost complete recovery. Or many nerves can be injured, culminating in complete paralysis. And it’s rare for the spinal cord to get completely severed.
A spinal cord injury of any sort will usually cause some of these symptoms:
- nerve pain
- muscle spasms
- muscle weakness
- extreme back pain
- head, neck pressure
- inability to move, feel
- balance, walking issues
- intense stinging sensation
- difficulty breathing, coughing
- loss of hot, cold, touch sensations
- bowel, bladder control problems~ constipation, incontinence, bladder spasms
Spinal cord injuries or spinal cord compression can lead to serious complications, like:
- decubitus ulcers
- cardiovascular disease
- orthostatic hypotension
- blood clots ~ DVT, pulmonary embolism
With any trauma to your spinal area, head, neck or whiplash, spinal cord injury should always be assumed. Consider any spinal cord injury a medical emergency because immediate treatment is critical in reducing potential long term effects and your eventual recovery.
Initial treatment will focus on preventing further damage and relieving pressure. So your injury or compression may call for immobilization, surgery and corticosteroid drug to be used.
Corticosteroids reduce spinal cord swelling and should be administered ASAP after an injury to minimize its damage. Other treatments that may be utilized to aid in your recovery are:
- rehabilitation program
- spinal traction to immobilize your spine
- bed rest to allow for your spine bone to heal
- medications ~ analgesics, muscle relaxants
- botulinum toxin injections for muscle spasticity
Successful recovery is highly dependent upon the nature and extent of your spinal cord injury.