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Spinal Cord Injuries- All you need to know

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Spinal cord damage or injury is an injury to the spinal nerves or cord area at the end of the spinal canal (cauda equina).

It usually makes permanent changes in sensation, strength, and other body functions beneath the injury's site. Many people in India are suffering from spinal cord injury.

If you have recently been through a spinal cord injury, it may feel like each aspect of your life has been affected. You may feel your injury's effects mentally, socially, and emotionally.

Most scientists are positive that advances in research will make the spinal cord injury's repair possible one day.

Research studies are continuing all over the world. In the meantime, rehabilitation and treatments allow several individuals with spinal cord injuries to lead independent, productive lives.

In this article, we have discussed the symptoms, causes, and when you should consult a doctor. Let us start with the signs of a spinal cord injury.

Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury

Your ability to handle your limbs following a spinal cord injury is based on two factors:

  • The injury's place along your spinal cord
  • The injury's severity to the spinal cord

Your spinal cord's lowest normal part is referred to as your injury's neurological level. The injury's severity is called "the completeness" and is categorized as either of the below:

  • Complete- If all feeling (sensory) and ability to handle movement (motor function) are lost beneath your spinal cord injury, the injury is called complete.
  • Incomplete- If you have some sensory or motor function beneath the affected part, the injury is called incomplete. There are differing degrees of incomplete injury.

Also, a spinal cord injury's paralysis may be referred to as:

  • Tetraplegia: Also called quadriplegia, it means that your hands, arms, legs, trunk, and pelvic organs are all affected due to your spinal cord injury.
  • Paraplegia: The paralysis affects the part of your entire trunk, legs, and pelvic organs.

Your health care team performs a series of tests to find your injury's neurological level and completeness.

Spinal cord injuries of any form may result in one or more of the below symptoms:

  • Movement loss
  • Sensation altered or lost, including heat, cold and touch feeling abilities
  • Bowel loss or bladder control
  • Exaggerated reflex spasms or activities
  • Sexual function, sexual sensitivity, and fertility changes
  • Pain or an immense stinging sensation due to damage to the nerve fibers in your spinal cord
  • Trouble breathing, coughing, or your lung's clearing secretions

Emergency signs and symptoms

Emergency signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury following an accident may involve:

  • Intense back pain or pressure in your head, neck, or back
  • Weakness, paralysis or incoordination in any area of your body
  • Tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation in your fingers, hands, toes or feet
  • Bladder loss or bowel control
  • Walking and balance difficulty
  • Impaired breathing following an injury
  • An oddly twisted or positioned neck or back

Now that you know the symptoms of a spinal cord injury let us discuss some of its causes.

What are the Causes of a Spinal Cord Injury?

Some of the causes of a spinal cord injury may include:

Central nervous system

Spinal cord injuries may result from ligaments, vertebrae damage. The injuries may also result from spinal column disk damage or the spinal cord itself.

A traumatic spinal cord injury may arise from an unforeseen, traumatic blow to your spine that dislocates, fractures, compresses or crushes one or more of your vertebrae. It may also result from a knife wound or gunshot that pierces and cuts your spinal cord.

Additional damage happens typically over days or weeks due to swelling, bleeding, inflammation, and fluid accumulation around and in your spinal cord.

Arthritis, inflammation, cancer, infections, or spine disk degeneration may cause a nontraumatic spinal cord injury.

Damage to nerve fibers

Whether the cause is nontraumatic or traumatic, the damage affects the nerve fibers going through the injured place and may impair some or all of your corresponding muscles and nerves beneath the injury site.

A lower back (lumbar) or chest (thoracic) injury can affect your legs, torso, bowel and bladder control, and sexual function. A neck (cervical) injury affects the same places. Also, it affects your arms movements and, possibly, your ability to breathe.

When to see a doctor?

If you experience extreme trauma to your neck or head, you should look for a spine surgeon in mumbai for a spinal injury's possibility. It is safe to assume that trauma victims get a spinal injury until proved otherwise due to:

  • A severe spinal injury is not always immediately known. If it is not recognized, more severe damage may happen.
  • Paralysis or numbness may happen immediately or arise gradually as bleeding or swelling occurs around or in the spinal cord.
  • The gap between injury and treatment can be critical in finding the severity and extent of problems and the reasonable time of expected recovery.

If you suspect that someone has a back or neck injury:

  • Do not move the injured person — permanent paralysis and other severe problems may result
  • Call your local emergency medical assistance number or 911
  • Hold the person stable
  • Keep heavy towels on both sides of the neck or hold the neck and head to prevent them from moving until emergency care comes
  • Give basic first aid, like stopping any bleeding and making the person comfortable, without moving the neck or head.

Spinal cord injuries can result in severe damage to various body functions. If you feel that you may have a spinal cord injury due to an unfortunate event, consult a neurosurgeon immediately.

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