Are you living with a spinal cord injury?
Over the last decade, spinal cord injuries have become the second most common cause of disability. SCI can occur when someone falls, hits their head, or experiences trauma. This results in serious damage that can affect their mobility because of a damaged spinal cord.
Having a spinal cord injury can be a life-changing event. Knowing about spinal cord injury symptoms early makes a recovery and adaptation easier.
It is important to understand what SCI is all about. Find out here in our guide about spinal cord injuries, symptoms, and recovery.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) is an injury to the spinal cord that causes permanent or temporary changes in its normal functioning. It is a devastating injury to the body that can potentially have lifelong effects.
It occurs when any type of trauma damages the nerves of the spinal cord, resulting in loss of function and mobility. SCIs can be complete, with no function below the site of injury, or incomplete, where some function remains. Regardless of the severity, the injury can have wide-ranging and long-term effects on the individual.
Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) range from mild to severe. It also depends on the location of the injury and the amount of damage that has been sustained.
In general, symptoms include a loss of sensation and function at or below the level of the injury. Some of the most common sensory issues are complete or partial paralysis, pins and needles, and numbness. Also, muscle weakness, loss of bladder control, and sexual function.
Pain in the area at and around the injury is often present as well. Other signs and symptoms may include difficulty in breathing and loss of reflexes. Also, difficulties with coordination, balance, and potential motor issues.
It is important to understand that any type or severity of SCI can have potentially serious and life-altering effects on the patient.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injury is a medical condition that can be caused by a wide range of factors. The factors include traumatic accidents and medical conditions. Traumatic injuries can be caused by any forceful or sudden trauma to the spinal column.
Traumatic causes of spinal cord injuries include car accidents, falls, acts of violence, and sports accidents. This can cause several layers of damage to your spinal cord, including bruising, swelling, or tearing.
Compression of the spinal cord caused by fractures, dislocations, tumors, and hematomas can also lead to spinal cord injury. Non-traumatic causes of spinal cord injury include congenital abnormalities, infections, and neoplastic processes.
Other causes of SCI include diseases such as arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and stenosis. In rare cases, injuries have been known to occur during medical procedures like epidural injections or the removal of tumors or cysts. Also, the impairment and death of spinal cord nerve cells that can occur with aging can be a cause of spinal cord injury.
If you are involved in an accident and suffer a serious physical injury like SCI, you should hire a serious injury lawyer as soon as possible. Hiring a professional injury attorney will ensure that your rights and interests are protected.
How to Diagnose a Spinal Cord Injury
When diagnosing an SCI, there are several steps that need to be taken. A physical examination needs to be done to look for signs such as sensory and motor deficits, reflex changes, and decreased sensation. Then, medical imaging, such as an MRI or CT scan, should be done to look for signs of damage to the spinal cord.
Patients may need further tests, such as a lumbar puncture. Once all these tests are completed, a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for the SCI can then be created.
Treatment Options for Spinal Cord Injury
Treatment options for spinal cord injury vary depending on the specific injury. These options can be broken into categories. The options include pharmacological treatments, surgical treatments, and rehabilitative therapies.
This treatment can help patients to adjust more comfortably to their recovery. It can also help with and rehabilitation process as well as control spasticity. Medications and injections may be used to reduce inflammation, reduce nerve pain, and improve function.
Antidepressants may also provide pain relief. Calcium channel blockers can also be used in combination to reduce spasms and reduce pain. Pharmacological management is helpful in providing comfort and management of symptoms. But, it is important to remember that medications have side effects and must be closely monitored.
Surgical treatments for SCI are typically recommended when severe damage has occurred to the spinal cord. The primary goal of surgery is to reduce neurological deficits and improve the patient’s quality of life. Depending on the cause and severity of the spinal cord injury, a variety of surgical treatments may be available.
In some cases, surgical treatments can also be used to reduce secondary symptoms. However, these treatments can carry certain risks. The risks include infection, nerve damage, and potential worsening of neurological deficits.
Physical Therapy Treatments
Physical therapy programs aim to limit disability and promote the highest level of function possible. Occupational and recreational therapy can help patients develop skills for daily living.
Exercise programs also play a role in building strength and muscle control. It also helps maintain or improve the range of motion. Assistive devices, such as wheelchairs and orthotics, can increase mobility and independence.
Understanding the Various Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
In conclusion, living with a spinal cord injury can be difficult. It is important to stay positive, build support, and find ways to stay engaged in activities that make life meaningful. Finding the right resources to help cope with physical, mental, and emotional challenges is an important part of recovery.
The best way to manage a spinal cord injury is to gain knowledge and understand spinal cord injury symptoms. Ultimately, work closely with a healthcare team to find the best treatment plan.
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