Spinal Cord Injuries

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A spinal cord injury damages a part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal and has a permanent impact on physical strength, sensation, and other body functions.

The effects of a spinal cord injury can extend to a person’s mental, emotional, and social well-being.


Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries


A spinal cord injury can cause the following symptoms:

  • Lost or impaired movement
  • Loss of or altered sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold, and touch
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing, or clearing secretions from the lungs
  • Inability to control the bowel or bladder
  • Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity, and fertility
  • Exaggerated reflexes or spasms
  • Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord
Patient-recovering-from-spinal-cord-injury
Digital-illustration-of-spinal-cord

Emergency signs of a spinal cord injury after an accident include:

  • Extreme back pain or pressure in the neck, head, or back
  • Weakness, incoordination, or paralysis in any part of the body
  • Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the hands, fingers, feet, or toes
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Difficulty with balance and walking
  • Impaired breathing after injury
  • An oddly positioned or twisted neck or back

Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries


Damage to the vertebrae, ligaments, spinal discs, or to the spinal cord itself can lead to spinal cord injuries.

A traumatic spinal cord injury can be caused by a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine, leading to a fracture, dislocation, crushing, or compressing of one or more of the vertebrae. A gunshot or knife wound that penetrates and cuts the spinal cord can also lead to severe damage.

Additional damage usually occurs over days or weeks after the injury as a result of bleeding, swelling, inflammation, and fluid accumulation in and around the spinal cord.

Other potential causes of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Inflammation
  • Infections
  • Disc degeneration of the spine
Digital-illustration-of-damage-to-the-vertebrae-causing-spinal-cord-injury

Treatment Options For Spinal Cord Injuries


Patients with spinal cord injuries may need treatment that includes pain management techniques, joint and soft tissue injections, and occupational medicine. The right treatment will depend on the level of damage and the patient’s level of pain.

Treatment for spinal cord injuries may incorporate pain management techniques, such as cold and heat therapy, gentle exercise, physical therapy, therapeutic massage, music therapy, biofeedback, mind-body techniques, and occupational therapy. Each patient will receive personalized recommendations from their doctor for managing pain.

Patients at Westcare Clinics may also receive joint and soft tissue injections to help minimize pain from a spinal cord injury. These injections may include epidural injections (interlaminar and transforaminal), piriformis injection, sacroiliac joint injections, and trigger point injections.

Westcare Clinics offers occupational medicine for patients who need to continue working. Our team of healthcare practitioners trains employers to adapt the workplace and worker responsibilities according to the physical limitations of an employee undergoing treatment.

Advanced Treatment


Patients experiencing severe symptoms may need further treatment for spinal cord injuries. Advanced treatment may include surgery, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment, physical therapy, and other forms of rehabilitation. The Westcare Clinics team is happy to answer any questions patients may have about obtaining advanced treatment.

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