Your spine and back are a crucial part of the entire body, and if not healthy it can cause a host of unwelcome health issues. Several problems can change the structure of the spine or damage the vertebrae and surrounding tissue. The spine is part of the central nervous system, made up of the brain and spinal cord, and facilitates millions of nerves that send messages to the brain to control the body’s functions. Back pain is debilitating, and stops you from doing your normal daily routine.
Spine conditions and injuries can make even simple activities like walking or climbing stairs a challenge. Spinal injuries often cause pain when bone changes put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, and can also limit movement. Treatments differ due to your condition or severity of injury. Sometimes treatment includes the use of back braces, and surgery for more severe cases.
The most common spinal injuries are:
- Spondylosis: The wear and tear of the spinal discs
- Abnormal Curvature: Your spine’s natural curves help balance your body, however, if the curves become too pronounced, or if your spine develops a twist or an extra curve, it puts extra pressure on the vertebrae and discs.
- Scoliosis: A side-to-side curve in your back
- Degenerated Disc: Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is used to describe changes of the spinal discs, most commonly thinning, hardening and drying out. Disc degeneration can result from normal aging or wear-and-tear, but can start or accelerate because of injury, disease or unusual stress.
- Herniated Disc: If the outer wall of a spinal disc tears (ruptures), the soft material inside the disc can squeeze out and press on nearby nerves. This can cause pain, numbness or weakness in your legs or back.
- Fractures: Vertebrae that crack or break can be caused by an injury, repeated stress or a condition like osteoporosis, which can make bones weak and brittle.
- Stenosis: Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal. Stenosis can press on the spinal cord and nerves and cause pain and other symptoms.
Recovery from A Spinal Injury:
Contrary to popular belief about spinal cord injury, recovery is the rule and not the exception. This type of recovery takes a long time, and may be slowed down or blocked by the muscle atrophy and non-use. Many therapies have been shown to regenerate and rehabilitate the spinal cord, with physical therapy being crucial to building up muscle strength and encouraging proper movement.
The best chance for recovery of function following injury to the spine is through early treatment. Early surgical decompression and stabilization leads to better recovery. Rehabilitation and assistive devices allow many people with spine injuries to lead productive, independent lives. Treatments include drugs to reduce symptoms and surgery to stabilize the spine. Aggressive physical therapy and rehabilitation after surgery also maximizes recovery. The majority of recovery occurs within the first six months after injury. Any remaining loss of function present after 12 months is much more likely to become permanent.
If you are suffering from an injury to your spine, call the Spine Academy of Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland at (410) 644-1880 to request an appointment.