Explanation and Causes:

The spinal cord consists of a large bundle of nerves that carry impulses to and from the brain to and from the rest of the body. Cells of the nervous system don’t regenerate under most conditions and therefore injuries to the spinal cord sometimes irreparable and might have everlasting effects on an individual. However, there are several different degrees of injury when it comes to the spinal cord and for many injuries of the spinal cord—anything can happen. It is important to keep in mind that almost every injury to the spinal cord will be life changing in one degree or another.

Spinal cord injuries are classified by two types. A complete injury means there was a complete severance or interruption of nerve impulses past a certain level within the spinal cord. An incomplete or a partial injury means that the injury didn’t affect the entire width of the spinal cord. Most people that partially damage the spinal cord can make a significant recovery.

Common causes of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Car accidents
  • Violence
  • Falls
  • Sport and recreational activities
  • Disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis

Symptoms:

  • Pain or intense stinging
  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of sensations like heat, cold, and touch
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Increased reflex movements
  • Change in sexual function
  • Difficulty breathing

Immediate emergency symptoms include:

  • Fading in and out of consciousness
  • Extreme back pain
  • Pressure in head, neck or back
  • Oddly positioned neck
  • Major balance problems when walking

Diagnosis and Causes:

  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • Myelography allows doctors to better see the nerves

Treatment:

Many spinal cord injuries heal by immobilizing the entire spinal cord, this done by placing a person in traction. This immobilizes the spine and therefore the person. Following traction most people will need to relearn some functions that were lost during the injury.

Full recovery can take 6 months to 24 months. If after this time there is no significant recovery, the affects of the injury are most likely permanent.

The sooner medical attention is found after the injury the better off the prognosis. Healthcare professionals will immediately give methyl-prednisolone or other corticosteroids to immediately reduce swelling and further damage to the spinal cord.

Surgery is always a viable option.

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