Did you know that our spinal cord or spinal column is shaped like a tube consisting of a bundle of nerves extending from the base of the brain to the tail end of the back? These nerves act as messengers, carrying messages from the brain to different parts of the body. The backbone or vertebrae protects the spinal cord from jerks and injuries. However, any disorder in the spinal cord can lead to neurological disability which can cause permanent damage. However, some nerve and spinal disorders can be cured or minimised if the treatment is quick and effective. It is important to consult a doctor and get a comprehensive checkup in case of any spinal injuries. So, let’s delve further to understand various symptoms, risk factors, treatments, rehabilitation facilities, therapies etc., related to spinal health.
Why is it Necessary to Understand the Risk Factors?
Understanding the risk factors of nerve disorders is important to identify the right treatment plan. Moreover, certain factors make a person more predisposed to higher risk. Knowing these risk factors helps in fine-tuning the treatment plan. Here are a few risk factors that should be understood.
- Gender. Statistics indicate men are more prone to spinal cord injuries.
- Age. It has been observed that people between 16 and 30 are more susceptible to spinal column injuries.
- Risk-Behaviour. Playing high-impact sports, engaging in injury-prone activities, and failing to take proper precautions during such activities also lead to spinal cord injuries.
- Diseases. People with osteoporosis and other joint disorders are also prone to spine and nerve-related injuries.
- Genetics. SCI or spinal cord injury is also correlated with genetic factors. In such cases, doctors recommend gene therapy.
- Lifestyle Factors. Certain lifestyle factors such as excess weight or obesity, smoking, alcohol intake, and a sedentary lifestyle are also responsible for weakness or injuries in the spinal column.
- Occupational Hazards. Many people who work in factories, oil rigs, mines, and other places with high occupational hazards are at higher risk of sustaining such injuries.
Anatomy of Our Spine
- Sacral or Pelvis
- Thoracic or Lower Back Region
- Lumbar or Upper Back Region
- Cervical or Neck Region
When the spinal cord gets damaged or injured, it may result in spinal stenosis, abscess, degenerative disc disease, hematoma, herniated discs, and vertebral fractures.
What are the Different Types of Spinal Disorders
As discussed above, several factors lead to spine disorders. An appropriate treatment plan is recommended depending on the cause of these disorders.
Spinal Cord Injuries
While some people are born with spine disorders, some suffer from sudden falls, accidents, inflammation, cognitive disorders, injuries, infections, and degenerative wear & tear. Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are caused due to several factors; some are sudden, while some are progressive.
- Improper Weight Lifting Technique
- Poor Posture
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Repetitive Strenuous Activity
- Thyroid Disease
- Lifestyle Habits like alcohol intake, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, low intake of calcium and more.
Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries
The symptoms of spinal cord injuries or damage depending on the specific disorder’s cause. Since the major function of our spine is to provide support to our body, any disorder or injury in the spine can affect different body parts.
- Tingling Sensation
- Dull, sharp, or burning pain in the neck or back
- Vomiting or nausea
- Rounded back or shoulders
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction
Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injury treatment may vary from patient to patient, depending on the symptom and type of injury. The main treatment options available are-
- Spinal Oncology
- Spinal Bracing
- Steroid Injections
- Spina Bifida Repair
- Physical Therapy
- Spine Surgery
Excruciating pain in the back can be debilitating and uncomfortable. It may result from certain strenuous activities, injuries, and medical conditions. As people age, the problem becomes more pronounced unless treated.
Causes of Back Pain
Our back is made up of ligaments, muscles, discs, tendons, and bones. All parts of the back work in collaboration to help us move around and give support to our back. This system may go haywire in certain cases.
- Ruptured or bulging discs
- Abnormal spinal curve
- Kidney problems
- Bad Posture
- Sleep Disorders
- Spine Infection
Symptoms of Back Pain
The common back pain symptoms include pain in any part of the back, sometimes travelling down to the buttocks and legs. Other symptoms are –
- Pain down the legs
- Weight Loss
- Swelling or inflammation in the back
- Difficulty in Urinating
- Trauma to the Back
- Faecal incontinence
- Numbness around buttocks, anus, or genitals
Treatments for Back Pain
Treatment of back pain depends on the symptoms. Some of the major treatment options are –
- OTC Medication
- Physical Therapy
- Cortisone Injections
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
Degenerative disc disease, or spinal degeneration, occurs when the cushion in the spine starts showing signs of wear and tear. After 40, many people start experiencing this problem which aggravates with age.
Causes of Spinal Degeneration
There are many reasons behind the degeneration of spinal discs.
- Drying out of spinal discs
- Tears or crack in spinal discs
Symptoms of Spinal Degeneration
Symptoms of this problem may vary from patient to patient. Mostly, pain is experienced, which may be –
- Fleeting pain
- Pain that lasts for weeks or months
- Tingling or numbness in legs or arms
- Pain radiating to the lower back
- Problem in sitting or standing
Treatment of Spinal Degeneration
Various treatment options are suggested depending on the severity of the pain and discomfort.
- Physical Therapy
- Radiofrequency Neurotomy
- Steroid Injections
- Hot and cold Therapy
- Exercise and Stretching
- Spinal Decompression Surgery
The spine curving sideways is referred to as scoliosis. This problem is majorly seen in adolescents but can also be observed in people with muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.
Causes of Scoliosis
The causes of scoliosis are relatively unknown. Hereditary factors are the most common cause behind this problem as it is observed running in families. Other causes are –
- Neuromuscular problems like muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy
- Previous surgery on the chest wall of a baby
- Birth defects impacting spine bones
- Spinal cord abnormalities
- Infections and injuries of the spine
Symptoms of Scoliosis
Depending on the severity of the condition, the symptoms may be mild or quite pronounced. Some of the major symptoms include –
- Leaning towards one side
- Visible curvature in the spine
- Ribs seem to be sticking out from the clothes
- Uneven shoulders
Treatment of Scoliosis
The treatment of this condition depends on the severity of the curve in the spine. The doctors recommend the following treatment options –
- Surgery which includes expanding rod, spinal fusion, and vertebral body tethering
What is the Impact of Spinal Disorder or Injury?
For the uninitiated, the sources of spinal disorders may be internal or external.
- External Damage. In external spinal damage, the cord may get injured or compressed. The latter may happen due to spinal degeneration, bone fracture, or other abnormalities like a tumors, hematoma, or herniated disc.
- Internal Damage. Internal spinal cord damage occurs due to disorders like blood supply blockage, fluid-filled cavities, autoimmune diseases, vitamin deficiency, syphilis, and multiple sclerosis.
When to Consult a Doctor?
If there is an injury on the head, neck or back, the person should immediately visit the nearest hospital because spinal injuries are generally mild in the beginning and aggravate with time if left unattended.
Also, if a person feels numbness or tingling, difficulty in balancing or walking, or impaired breathing, he or she must consult the doctor.
You can also get in touch with the expert Neurology doctors at Narayana Healthcare based in your city to get immediate attention and medical support during spinal injury, Neurological disorders or any other health concern.
- Best neurologist in Delhi
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It is important to know and understand the risk factors associated with nerve and spinal disorders, which, left untreated, can result in secondary conditions. These conditions, such as pressure ulcers, osteoporosis, muscle spasms, urinary tract infections, deep vein thrombosis, respiratory issues, and chronic pain, are uncomfortable, debilitating, and even life-threatening.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ques 1. How do I know which spinal disorder treatment is right for me?
Ans 1. Visit a neuro and spinal physician for consultation. The doctor may recommend a battery of tests to diagnose the condition accurately. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment options are recommended. Discuss the pros and cons of each option which will help in taking a well-informed decision.
Ques 2. What are the risks and benefits of spinal disorder treatments?
Ans 2. Depending on the severity of the condition, the doctor may suggest different treatment options. Not going for the treatment may result in further deterioration in your condition, which is a major risk, leading to a debilitating condition. Conversely, the benefits of spinal disorder treatment are immense. It will allow proper movement, pain-free existence, and freedom from discomfort.
Ques 3. Are there non-surgical treatment options for spinal disorders?
Ans 3. Yes, there are non-invasive treatment options for spinal disorders, like physiotherapy and medication.
Ques 4. What should I expect during a spinal disorder treatment?
Ans 4. When you go for a spinal disorder treatment, you can expect gradual relief from your painful and uncomfortable condition. Your muscle function will improve, inflammation will reduce, and mobility will increase.