Spine Trauma: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

by Administrator 17. July 2017 10:22

Any injury/damage to the vertebrae, spinal cord or both is termed as Spine Trauma. The medical condition is also variously known as Spinal cord Injury, Compression of the Spinal Cord, etc.

Spine Trauma may result from direct or indirect injury as well as other indirect stress factors like diseases of neighboring structures (e.g. Herniated Disc), tissues etc. Injuries to the vertebrae may result in fractures of the vertebral bones and other structures, dislocation (involving the facet joints) or subluxation (which is injury to the ligaments without concomitant injury to the bony structures).

Vertebral injuries may be stable or unstable. Stable vertebral injuries are fairly less complicated. In unstable vertebral injuries, bones and ligaments are injured substantially resulting in free movement of the vertebrae that can compress the spinal cord apart from disrupting the flow of blood. Unstable vertebral injuries are usually very painful and affect the nerves substantially resulting in pain, paralysis etc. Spinal cord may be traumatized by even a small injury. Diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoporosis can render the spinal cord liable to easy injury. Spinal cord may be injured in the case of Spinal Stenosis where the spinal canal through which the cord passes becomes very narrow in older people.

Causes

  • Physical assault –  injuries caused by knives or gunshots
  • Violent falls on hard surfaces
  • Diving into shallow waters with a hard surface underneath – as in swimming pools
  • Slipping on the floor, vehicular accidents
  • Sudden twisting of the head, neck or back during sports/athletics
  • Broken vertebrae with protruding bone fragments may damage the spinal cord
  • Simple falls involving relatively minor injuries may also cause spinal trauma in older people

Symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Pain
  • Shooting pain down the extremities
  • Impaired movement of arms, legs, hands, and fingers
  • Numbness and loss of sensation in the area near and below the site of injury
  • Muscular weakness or loss of muscular strength
  • Paralysis
  • Breathing problems
  • Loss of Control on bowel and/or bladder movement – resulting in incontinence, etc.
  • Loss of sexual function
  • Internal bleeding
  • Sweating
  • dema of the spinal cord
  • Hypothermia/hyperthermia

Diagnosis

  • Physical examination
  • CT Scan
  • MRI of the spine
  • Spinal X-ray
  • Myelogram – an examination of the spine through x-ray after injecting a contrast dye

Treatment

  • Analgesics  or painkillers may be prescribed by the spine surgeon
  • Muscle-relaxants may be helpful
  • Surgical realignment of vertebrae may be an option
  • Surgical removal of bone fragments resulting from the injury
  • Surgical fusion of vertebrae
  • Spinal braces to restrict  movement
  • Decompression Laminectomy- Remove fluid or tissue that presses on the spinal cord
  • Bed-rest may be advised for some time depending on the condition
  • Spinal traction for a fairly extended duration
  • Physiotherapy is helpful in most cases

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