Treatment of spinal cord injuries is usually fraught with angst. My clients are terrified to undergo serious treatment to their necks or backs. However, spinal cord injuries (“SCI”) are very common in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and slip and fall cases. Therefore, a lot of personal injury victims must have their spinal cord injury treated with physical therapy, occupational therapy, injection therapy, or even surgery.
A spinal cord injury occurs when a traumatic event damages the spinal cord. The typical spinal cord is made up of 31 one bones known as “vertebrae.” The vertebrae form a curved line which protects a person’s spinal cord while also providing support to the rest of a person’s toros.
The spinal cord itself is inside of the vertebrae. That is what makes the vertebrae so important. They provide protection to the spinal cord. If the vertebrae are damaged in any way, this damage can lead to spinal cord injuries or injuries to nerve cells.
Spinal cord injuries are divided into two types: complete spinal cord injuries and incomplete spinal cord injuries. Whether an injury is complete or incomplete will largely determine long-term prognosis.
A complete spinal cord injury is when there is a total loss of function below the site of the injury. An incomplete injury occurs when the victim has feeling and movement below the site of the injury, but there is some loss of function or sensation. Incomplete spinal injuries tend to have a much higher possibility of recovery.
The Seriousness of Spinal Cord Injuries
A person’s spinal cord bundles the nerves that allow communication between the brain and the rest of their body. Therefore, it is one of the most important and complicated parts of the human body. The spine plays a primary role in allowing people to physically function. It also supports a person’s entire upper torso.
Because of the spine’s importance, spinal cord injuries can throw a person’s life into upheaval. Should the nerves in the spinal cord cease to receive messages from the brain, a person can lose their sense of touch or suffer loss of function to move arms and legs below the level of injury. An injury above the legs but below the arms is what causes a person to be a paraplegic, while an injury in the neck is the most common cause of someone becoming a quadriplegic.
A severe spinal cord injury is one of the most catastrophic injuries a person can suffer. Typically, injury victims with spinal cord injuries suffer permanent injuries and disabilities which require medical care for the rest of their lives.
Basic Stages of the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries
Certainly, some spinal cord injuries require immediate surgical intervention. There are people who suffer injuries so catastrophic that they must skip the initial modes of treatment typically subscribed initially for spinal cord injuries. However, doctors typically treat the large majority of spinal cord injuries along a similar trajectory.
Conservative Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries
Following a traumatic injury to the spinal cord, once the victim has received initial medical attention, the first course of treatment for a spinal cord injury is quite conservative. That is, for injured victims that have not lost sensory function but have suffered an acute spinal cord injury, the initial course of treatment is non-invasive.
Most orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons initially recommend the victim undergo physical therapy of some sort following their injury. Doctors and physical therapists intend this course of treatment to strengthen the muscles, ligaments, and joints around the injury. Strengthening these areas is meant to help stabilize the spine and allow the body time to heal itself if possible.
Interventional Pain Management
Ofen, physical therapy and other conservative treatments cannot fix a spinal cord injury. In those situations, the next step is typically interventional pain management. With spinal cord injuries, due to the delicacy of the spinal cord, the goal is to avoid surgery at all costs. Therefore, doctors that treat these injuries attempt to treat a patient’s pain if conservative measures fail.
One of the main ways doctors treat spine pain is with nerve blocks. They will administer an injection near the injury site. If that injection causes the pain to go away or to reduce by a certain percentage, the doctor will recommend the patient undergo a more long-term treatment. That treatment can help eliminate pain receptors for as long as a year or more.
Some interventional pain management doctors will provide steroid injections to alleviate inflammation near the injury site. The goal of these injections is the free the patient up to return to their normal way of life. However, if these injections are only temporarily successful, that usually means that the patient is potentially a surgical candidate.
Surgical Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries
There are many different types of surgeries that can treat spinal cord injuries. The one necessary for any particular injury depends greatly on the actual injury and the location of the injury. However, surgeons will typically try to avoid going forward with the most invasive spine surgeries if they can. That means surgeons prefer minimally invasive discectomies over multiple-level fusions.
Additionally, surgeons can insert an assistive device called a spinal cord stimulator spinal cord injuries. Surgeons insert these devices into the spinal cord. The device then sends low levels of electricity directly into the spinal cord to relieve pain.
Call Knapp Accident & Injury Law
I have served the interests of thousands of clients that have suffered traumatic spinal cord injuries. My firm is specifically suited to help individuals that have suffered spinal cord injuries find the right treatment and to fight for the rights of those individuals.
Insurance companies and defense attorneys exist to take advantage of injured victims. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury, you need an attorney that knows how to fight them. Knapp Accident & Injury Law is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will not rest until you have received fair compensation for your injuries, and adequate treatment to get you back to where you were before the injury.
Call us today for a free consultation. You can reach us at (813) 568-3724.