One of the most integral parts of the central nervous system of the human body, spinal cord is a long, thin, cylindrical structure that runs from the base of the brain to the bottom of the spine. It’s basically a collection of nerves (which is protected by the vertebrae) and acts as major support for the body. From allowing you to stand upright to propagating the electrical communication between the body and the brain, it performs numerous vital functions.
Spinal Cord Injury
When the spinal cord gets damaged as a result of traumatic and non-traumatic episodes including gunshots, car accidents, falls, infections, tumours etc., spinal cord injury follows. Consequently, the functioning of the spinal cord gets affected, both temporarily and permanently. Patients with spinal cord injury may also experience total loss of sensation in a particular area of the body.
Most of the spinal cord injuries affect the cervical spine. However, a little more than 15% compromises the thoracic spine.
Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury
There are majorly two types of spinal cord injury basis the symptoms. They include:
- Complete: The loss of complete feeling or motor function post spinal cord injury.
- Incomplete: If some sensory or motor function is still there, the injury is termed as incomplete.
A series of neurological tests confirm the degree of incomplete spinal cord injury.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of spinal cord injury are:
- Loss of movement and sensation
- Complete/incomplete loss of bladder control
- Overstated spasms
- Loss of sexual function/sensitivity
- Intense pain
- Breathing problems besides coughing
- Numbness/tingling sensation
- Severe headaches
- Stiffness in the neck/back
These symptoms vary from person to person basis the severity of the injury. Paralysis and incontinence are the long-term outcomes of the spinal cord injury.
Some of the common diagnostic tests/scans used to detect the level of the spinal cord injury are:
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Recent studies have indicated that the relationship between cancer risk and spinal cord injury is very much conceivable. This is evident from the fact that the patients with genitourinary (GU) tract cancers, prostate cancer or bladder cancer besides the spinal cord injury are given extra care at the prominent cancer hospitals in India.
When to visit the hospital?
If you have experienced a pronounced trauma on your head/neck recently, you need medical evaluation to check whether or not the spinal cord has been injured. The specialists at the top hospitals in Hyderabad including Care Hospitals must be consulted at the earliest in such cases.
Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury
Once your spinal cord gets injured or damaged, the reversal is almost impossible, suggesting that there is no permanent treatment available to cure this condition. However, with the advent of new treatments like prostheses, the medical fraternity seems hopeful. Moreover, medications are available to mollify the symptoms of the spinal cord injury. Furthering nerve cell regeneration, they also help a great deal in improving the function of the spinal cord.