The spine is the long series of bones that surround the spinal cord, known as the vertebral column. The vertebral column is made up four parts. The neck is the cervical spine. The thoracic spine is comprised of the middle and upper back. The lumbar is the lower spine, and the sacral region is located above the tailbone at the base of the spine.
The spine protects the spinal cord, which is a series of encased nerves that travel down the middle of the back, connected to the brain. Trauma to the spine can cause serious injury to the spinal cord since nerves send messages to other parts of the body and control movement as well as organ function.
The thought of spinal injury is frightening, because the stakes are very high. Trauma to the spinal column and consequently, the spinal cord, could mean irreversible damage.
The causes of spinal cord injuries vary. Some of the more common traumatic reasons include car accidents, followed by falls. Unfortunately, violence is the third leading cause of spinal cord injury, usually from a gunshot. Sports injuries account for nine percent of spinal injuries. Complications to surgery and other medical issues cause 5 percent of the injuries to the spinal cord.
Below are two spinal injuries that affect the spinal cord.
Quadriplegia There is a risk of irreversible paralysis when the upper part of the spinal cord is injured. Injury to the neck area can result in quadriplegia. Quadriplegia is the loss of function in both the arms and legs.
Paraplegia When severe trauma/injury to the lower back happens, paralysis of the legs can occur. Paraplegia and quadriplegia injuries are irreversible. However, loss of function isn’t always attributed to the severing of the spinal cord. For most people who have severe injuries, the spinal cord remains intact, even though function is lost.
While, spinal cord injuries are the most dangerous type of injuries to the spine, injuries to the back that don’t affect the spinal cord can also be serious and painful. Neck injuries, for instance, are common for people who spend an exorbitant amount of time bent over a computer or phone screen, compressing the nerves in the neck.
Degenerative Disc Disease Degenerative disc disease becomes more prevalent with age and is defined by deterioration. The discs located between the vertebrae break down with use and functionality in the back is compromised. The discs lose their shock-absorbing ability, and normal flexing and bending of the back become problematic.
Herniated Discs Herniated discs are also problematic and may not be the result of direct trauma. A disc that ruptures is herniated. The condition is quite painful as the displaced disc material is deposited against spinal nerves. Herniated discs are usually not a result of trauma, but can result from wear and tear that is normal with the aging process. However, a herniated disc can be brought on through exertion, from lifting heavy objects, and trauma.
Bulging Discs In addition to herniated and degenerative discs, bulging discs are also painful, as they cause undue pressure on nerves. Pressure can also be passed on to the spinal cord. The condition can be age-related, but people with poor posture, especially when lifting heavy objects, are also susceptible. Bulging discs are one of the conditions for which you’ve been taught to “lift with your legs and not with your back.” A bulging disc can also be the result of a trauma, and the condition could even be passed down hereditarily.
Spinal Injury Treatment in Maryland
If you’ve had an injury to the spine, call the experts at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics. Our focus is giving you an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment as quickly as possible.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (410) 644-1880 or
(855) 4MD-BONE. You can also request an appointment online.