A spinal cord injury can be caused by traumatic or non-traumatic incidents. According to the WHO, about 500,000 people worldwide suffer from spinal cord injuries each year, most of which are due to preventable causes like car accidents, falls, and acts of violence. There are another set of non-traumatic causes of spinal injury that can arise due to medical illnesses like diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and nutritional deficiencies.
Although numerous treatments and rehabilitation programmes allow people with spinal cord injuries to lead productive lives, spinal injuries come with substantial individual and societal costs. Learn about the implications of spinal cord injuries, their causes, and treatment in the sections below.
Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders
In the human body, the spinal cord acts as the principal communication channel that transfers messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Its structure resembles a tube consisting of a bundle of nerves that go from the base of the brain down the back and is located within the vertebrae. The spinal cord is divided into four sections: cervical, lumbar, thoracic, and sacral, any of which can be affected by a spinal cord disorder.
The spinal cord also consists of spinal nerves having two nerve roots- motor and sensory. While the motor roots carry messages from the spinal cord to the muscles to stimulate movement, the sensory roots transfer signals of sensations like touch and pain from the body to the spinal cord. A loss of sensation in any part of the body can therefore also be considered a spinal cord disorder.
Types of spinal cord injuries
Essentially, there are two types of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete (partial). While a complete spinal cord injury causes total paralysis below the level of the injury, a partial or incomplete spinal injury may leave the patient with some sensation and control over the afflicted areas.
Based on location, spinal cord injury types are
Symptoms of Spinal Cord injury
The symptoms vary from individual to individual depending on the type, location, and severity of the injury. Some common symptoms of a spinal cord disorder are:
Since spinal cord injuries have serious implications, it is crucial to see a trained spine surgeon as soon as these symptoms appear.
Causes of a Spinal Cord Disorder
The most common causes of spinal cord injuries and disorders are:
Injuries to the spine or its connective tissues, like discs and ligaments, can also harm the spinal cord. Such injuries include fractures, dislocations of adjacent vertebrae, partial misalignment of adjacent vertebrae, and loosened ligament attachments.
Damage from inside the spinal cord can be caused by several disorders, such as fluid-filled cavities, blockage of blood supply, vitamin deficiency, autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, and syphilis.
Some lifelong complications arising from spinal cord injuries are:
Treatment of Spinal Cord Disorder
Since a spinal cord disorder can have long-term consequences, it is critical to get diagnosed by a spinal surgeon as soon as possible. Spinal disorder treatment depends on the type, location, and severity of the condition. It may include physical or occupational therapy, activity modification, surgery and medications. At Medanta, some of India’s top spinal surgeons, with their specialised teams of nurses, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists, ensure that patients receive excellent care throughout their treatment. Visit their Institute of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Orthopaedics for more information related to spinal injuries and disorders.