The spine, also known as the backbone or vertebral column, plays several important roles in your body. The spine helps safeguard the spinal cord, nerve roots, and specific internal organs. The spine also works to support the body’s frame and promotes an upright stance. It is made up of 33 bones with many tendons, ligaments, and muscles surrounding the area. The spine is split into 5 sections. They are the coccygeal, sacral, lumbar, thoracic, and cervical. The coccygeal vertebrae are bones located at the bottom of the spine and are also called the backbone. The sacral vertebrae are found between the lumbar vertebrae and coccygeal. It is nestled near the sacrum. The lumbar vertebrae are located on the lower back and function to hold up the upper body. The thoracic vertebrae are located on the upper part of the back. The cervical vertebrae are bones found around the neck. There are unique discs found throughout the spine. These spinal discs are important because they act as shock absorbers and are positioned between each bony vertebra. If you receive damage to your spine, it is wise to consider your options for advanced spinal treatments.
Diseases That Affect the Spine
There are many types of diseases that affect the spine and its functionality. One major condition is Spinal Stenosis. Individuals who are over the age of 50 are susceptible to Spinal Stenosis. Spinal Stenosis occurs when the spaces between the spine start to contract. As a result, this puts pressure on the nerves that run along the spine and causes lower back and neck pain. Spine Stenosis is usually brought on by arthritis. Spinal Stenosis Related Arthritis can lead to the breakdown of cartilage and create bone overgrowth in the spine. Osteoarthritis can cause the ligaments in the spine to thicken and cause bone spurs to form. The increased weight between the discs can lead to spinal changes and damage the cord and nerves. Scoliosis, sciatica, spinal tumors, spinal muscular atrophy, spinal cord injuries, and spinal fractures are other types of conditions that can damage the spine. Advanced spinal treatments can be used to effectively treat this disease.
Scoliosis is a deformity of the spine that occurs usually during a growth spurt. A person with scoliosis develops a sideways curvature in their backbone that may worsen over time. Those with scoliosis will often have uneven shoulders and hips and posture that leans towards one side. Sciatica is a pain that runs through the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is an expansive nerve that starts from the lower back and ends at the feet. It causes discomfort in the lower back that can spread to the legs. It is typically caused by a herniated disc. A spinal tumor is an irregular growth of tissue found on the spinal cord or column. The abnormal growth can spread to other parts of the body and become malignant.
A growing tumor can also press on the spine and result in spine instability and fractures. A tumor around the spine may lead to loss of movement and feeling in the area. It may affect a person’s bladder and bowel from functioning properly as well. Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a genetic disease that is associated with muscle weakness and the loss of one’s motor skills. Those with SMA experience a loss of motor neurons which leads to muscular atrophy and a lack of movement control. Motor neurons are found in the spine. Spinal Muscular Atrophy commonly affects children and babies.
Spinal cord injuries refer to damage caused anywhere on the spinal cord or nerves due to physical trauma. Car accidents, gunshot wounds, and surgical complications are some well-known causes of spinal cord damage. Spinal cord injuries range in severity and are categorized into 4 types. They are Cervical Spinal Cord Injury, C1-C8; Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury, T1-T12; Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury, L1-L5; and Sacral Spinal Cord Injury S1-S5. Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete. Spinal fractures are breakages or weakening of bones and ligaments in the spinal region. It is also known as a vertebral fracture or broken back. Types of spinal fractures are Compression Fracture, Burst Fracture, Cervical Fracture, and Holdsworth Fracture. Spinal fractures may be caused by an underlying disease or injury. An injury this serious almost always requires advanced spinal treatments.
Symptoms of Spinal Injury
There are many indicators of a spinal problem. You may not be able to move your arms or legs. You may experience a feeling of tingling and numbness that radiates throughout your extremities. You may feel stiffness or pain in the neck and back area. Losing bladder and bowel control is another sign that your spine is compromised. Other symptoms are trouble walking, headaches, muscle spasms, trouble breathing, and abnormal positioning of the head. It is important to treat the symptoms of spinal injuries immediately. Treating spinal problems right away will greatly improve your recovery rate. In addition, developing spinal injuries in certain parts of the spine will result in different types of symptoms. For example, damage to the spine around the lumbar region will affect the person’s legs and bladder. Injury to the cervical region of the spine is very serious and can interfere with the way the patient breathes.
Conventional Treatment Options
Spinal injuries can be treated in several ways. There are traditional methods, such as the utilization of medications, rehabilitation, supportive care, and alternative therapies. Advanced spinal treatments are available for those who have severe and chronic spinal problems. Muscle relaxants, pain killers, and steroids are types of drugs that doctors can prescribe to help those who are suffering from spine injuries. Injections, such as epidural steroid injections and facet joint injections, can help some patients keep inflammation down and decrease feelings of pain.
Spinal cord injury rehabilitation is also useful in helping a patient recover. During rehabilitation, a set of health-care professionals will establish a care plan based on the severity and location of the patient’s injury. They will look at the patient’s overall health to see what the appropriate type of treatment is needed. Physical therapy will play a significant role in helping the patient regain function in the injured area. Occupational therapy helps refine the patient’s fine motor skills as well. Rehabilitation will also help strengthen the patient’s emotional and mental well being. It will give the patient coping and survival skills that will take them far in life. Supportive care, like hydrotherapy and mechanical ventilation, can help patients too. Mechanical ventilation aids those who have spinal cord injuries and cannot breathe well on their own. Hydrotherapy can be very beneficial to spinal cord injury patients. This aquatic-based therapy allows for faster healing times and more successful patient outcomes. Alternative therapies that are popular among spine-injured patients are yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Types of Advanced Spinal Treatments
Advanced spinal treatments usually involve the use of surgery to correct issues found in the spine. Surgery can be performed on individuals who have long term back and neck pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Sciatica, Radiculopathy, Spinal Stenosis, or Degenerative Scoliosis. Examples of effective surgical procedures are Spinal Decompression, Microdiscectomy, Diskectomy, Cervical Disc Fusion, Foraminotomy, Cervical Disc Replacement, Lumbar Laminectomy, and Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion.
Spinal Decompression Surgery is an invasive procedure that works to release pressure buildup on the spinal cord or affected nerve root. The decompression helps relieve pain that is attributed to increasing pressure growing in the narrowing spaces of the spine. The bony area that encompasses the spinal cord and nerves is surgically widened. This opening allows more space for the spinal cord and nerves; thus, decreasing feelings of chronic discomfort and numbness. Diskectomies, Laminotomies, and Foraminotomies are all types of surgical Spinal Decompression procedures.
Surgical Spinal Decompression is normally reserved for those who are resistant to traditional types of spinal injury treatments. Cervical Disk Replacement is another popular type of surgery that helps relieve accumulated pressure in the nerve roots and spinal cord. The ruptured disk is removed and an artificial disk is put in its place. The pain diminishes once the damaged disk is removed. Disc Fusions is an advanced spinal treatment alternative as well. This type of surgery combines two (or more) vertebras together to lessen back pain caused by certain conditions, such as scoliosis and tumors on the spine.
It is important to note that Spinal Decompression Therapy is not to be confused with the surgical procedure (as described above). Spinal Decompression Therapy is a type of advanced spinal treatment that is minimally invasive. The purpose of this therapy is to carefully and gingerly stretch the spine. The stretching alters the position of the spine and as a result, the pressure is removed from the disks. This reduces any bulges that are present and allows for nutritious fluid to enter. The healing time of the injured area is greatly increased. This therapy is made up of 3 components. They are electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and hot or cold therapy.
Electrical stimulation is used because they can help specific muscles to contract. The sound waves generated from ultrasound creates heat which also works to increase healing time. A specialist will help determine if this sort of therapy is right for you. Each session can take about 30-45 minutes to complete. A few dozen sessions of this therapy spread out over 5-7 weeks is typical. Spinal Depression Therapy is not recommended for women who are pregnant, those who have severe osteoporosis, and those who have metal implants in their back. They are not a good treatment option for those who have a fracture or tumor in the spine.
It is a good idea to see a spine specialist for advanced spinal treatments if you feel constant numbness, weakness or tingling in your legs or hips. If pain is stopping you from doing daily activities or if you don’t remember an instance when your back didn’t hurt, seeing a spine specialist could help. Visit Subach Spinal Solutions in Arlington, VA if you would like to learn more about advanced spinal treatments. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!