The spine (spinal column) contains the spinal cord, which is divided into four sections:
- Cervical (Neck)
- Thoracic (Chest)
- Lumbar (Lower Back) and
- Sacral (Pelvis).
The vertebrae in each section of the spine are numbered beginning at the top. For example, the first vertebra in the cervical spine is labeled C1, the second in the cervical spine is C2, the second in the thoracic spine is T2, the fourth in the lumbar spine is L4, and so forth. These labels are also used to identify specific locations (called levels) in the spinal cord.
Nerves run from a specific level of the spinal cord to a specific area of the body. By noting where a person has weakness, paralysis, sensory loss, or other loss of function, a neurologist can determine where the spinal cord is damaged.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Difficulty in coughing, breathing or clearing secretions through the lungs
- Exaggerated reflex spasms or activities
- Loss of movement
- Intense stinging or pain caused by damage to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord
- Loss of sensation that include the ability to feel cold, heat and touch
- Changes in sexual function, sexual fertility and sensitivity
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Twisted or odd position of the back or neck
- Tingling, loss of sensation or numbness in the fingers, hands, toes or feet
- Difficulty in walking
- Difficulty with balancing
- Extreme pressure or back pain in the head, back or neck
- Impaired breathing after injury
- Weakness or paralysis in any body part
The broken bones or damage in the neck or back causes spinal cord injuries that also damage the nerves of the spinal cord. This usually results in traumatic injury caused by –
- Motorcycle or car accidents
- Sports injuries
- Accidents at work or at home
Spinal cord injury is a serious condition that requires urgent medical attention. Physical exam and neurological exam (brain and nervous system) of a patient is performed. These tests help in determining the exact location of the injury if the injury is unknown. The different tests include –
- Spine X-rays
- MRI or CT scan of the spine
- Somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP) magnetic or testing stimulation
- Myelogram is the X-ray of the spine after injecting dye
This is medical urgency that requires immediate treatment. Time in between the injury and treatment is the crucial factor that affects the result of the treatment. Methylprednisolone or dexamethasone is the corticosteroids that are used for reducing the swelling that can cause damage to the spinal cord. Paralysis may improve if the spinal cord pressure is due to growth which can be removed before the spinal nerves are totally damaged.
Surgery is performed for –
- Removing disc fragments, foreign objects and bone fragments
- Fusing the broken spinal bones or placing of the spinal braces
- Removing tissue or fluid that presses on the spinal cord (decompression laminectomy)
Complete bed rest is recommended for allowing the bones of the spine to heal. Sometimes spinal traction is also suggested that can help in moving the spine. A patient is required to wear spine braces for a long period of time.
After the injury has healed, occupational therapy, some rehabilitation therapies and physical therapy may also be required. Medications can be used for relieving muscle spasticity. These medications are injected or taken by mouth into the spinal canal.
When the condition of a patient has stabilized, it is important to begin the rehabilitation process soon so that muscles do not atrophy. The physical therapists can provide the best care for recovery due to advancement in the technology.
In the initial stage of rehabilitation, emphasis in given on regaining arm and leg strength as communication and mobility are the two most significant functional areas. In some patients, mobility is provided with the help of wheelchair, walker or leg braces. The redevelopment of motor skills is done by the means of occupational therapy. On the other hand, physical therapy improves muscle strengthening.
Spinal cord injury treatments in India are very cost-effective as compared to other countries in the western hemisphere.
We encourage you to educate yourself about Spinal Disorders in India, and also the benefits from the right kind of Spinal Disorders surgery before making a choice.
You can be rest assured that with Surgicure International's expertise, we bring in a wonderful experience of Neurosurgery in India, which we have been doing so for almost a decade now.