Spinal cord injury can result in one or more of the following signs:
- Loss of movement
- Loss or altered sensation and ability to feel cold, heat, and touch.
- Pain or an intense sensation due to the nerve fiber damage in the spinal cord.
- Difficulty coughing, breathing, or clearing secretions from the lungs.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
- Excessive reflex activities.
- Changes in sexual sensitivity, fertility, and sexual function.
Spinal cord injury can trigger due to vertebrae, discs, or ligaments damage to the spinal cord.
A traumatic spinal cord injury is the reason for a traumatic or sudden blow to the spine that dislocates, crushes, or fractures the vertebrae. The problem can also occur due to a knife wound or gunshot that cuts or penetrates the spinal cord.
Further damage can occur in weeks or days due to inflammation, swelling, and bleeding as well as fluid accumulation in the spinal cord.
If the spinal cord injury is nontraumatic then it can be due to cancer, inflammation, infection, or arthritis of the spine.
Some of the additional causes are sports injury, consumption of alcohol, diseases, falls, and acts of violence.
Some of the test used for diagnosis and examination are:
X-ray is done on the people who are suspected to have the spinal cord injury after trauma. X-rays can reveal a tumor, vertebral issues, degenerative changes, or fractures in the spine.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
CT scan helps to look at the abnormalities seen on the X-ray in a better way. The scan produces a series of cross-sectional images of the disk, bone, and other issues.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
MRI uses radio waves & magnetic fields to get computer-generated pictures. The test helps to check the herniated disk, blood clot, spinal cord, and other issues that might affect the spinal cord. Following the injury, once some of the swellings are reduced the doctor will do a comprehensive neurological exam which helps to determine the proper state of the injury. The doctor will check the muscle strength and the ability to pinprick sensation and light touch
Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse spinal cord damage. But, the researchers are working on ways to find the best treatment plan including medication and prostheses and medications that can improve the function of nerve cell regeneration of the spinal cord injury. The spinal cord injury treatment focuses on preventing the injury and helping people to get back to a normal working routine.
Urgent medical attention helps minimize the effect of the neck or head trauma. With the emergency treatment, the immobilized spine is gently treated with a rigid neck collar or rigid carrying board. The doctor will focus on
- Maintaining your ability to breathe
- Avoiding possible complications, such as stool retention, respiratory difficulty, blood clots formation.
- Prevent shock
- Immobilizing the neck to prevent further damage
If the patient has a spinal cord injury, they will be admitted to the intensive care unit of Kalyan Hospital for the treatment. Here’s how the treatment will have the following steps:
- Medications like Intravenous (IV) methylprednisolone (Solu-Medrol) were used in the past. But, this medication has side effects like pneumonia and blood clot.
- Immobilization is done to stabilize the spine to bring back the spine into its location.
- Surgery is needed to remove foreign objects, bone fragments, or fractured vertebrae. Moreover, it also helps to prevent future complications.
- The experimental treatment is in research to control inflammation, stop cell death, and promote nerve regeneration.
As per your condition, the doctor will give you an effective treatment plan to control the problem from getting worse and help you get back to the normal working routine.