Learn more about the different Spinal Injuries and how LA Pain Specialist can manage your symptoms.
The human spine is fairly durable, yet still susceptible to injury. Many reach a point where the main goal is to either eliminate pain altogether or bring it down to a level where it’s manageable.
- The specific treatment that’s appropriate for any spine-related injury will depend on what part of the spine is affected and what’s causing the problem
- Some injuries are mild and only require rest, others are more serious
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A spinal fracture (break in a bone) can be mild enough that will heal on its own with either rest or temporary bracing of the affected area to limit movement. A fracture may cause a vertebra to collapse, resulting in what’s termed a spinal compression fracture. Severe fractures may result in damage to spinal discs or lead to spinal instability.
Damage to one or more of the discs that cushion the bones of the spine is a common source of pain from spinal injuries. Spinal discs that become herniated when inner disc material pushes outward can be a source of local or radiating pain (discomfort felt away from the source in legs, thighs, arms, or shoulders) if pressure is placed on adjacent nerve roots. Discs may also slip out of place or fall forward onto an adjacent disc (spondylolisthesis). Pain management often involves:
- Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
- Modification of activities
Sports-Related Spinal Injuries
Sports-related impacts or falls are a common cause of spinal injuries. An impact may result in pain from swelling, or inflammation, around facet joints in the spine. Some sports-related spine injuries lead to pain from:
- Disc damage
- Irritation of nearby nerves such as the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower spine to the legs
- A spinal fracture
- Injury to the tailbone (coccydynia)
Age-Related Bone Changes
Not all spinal injuries are sudden. The bones of the spine change over time, often to the point where the odds of suffering an injury greatly increase. Age-related conditions such as degenerative disc disease, osteoporosis, and arthritis can also damage the spine. Changes to the bones of the spine can also increase pain from conditions that may have existed previously without any significant discomfort like spinal stenosis and disc herniation.
Spine-related infections are rare. When spinal infections do occur, all parts of the spine and adjacent soft tissues can be affected. Bacteria is a common source of spinal infections, although viral and fungal infections may develop.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord itself is sometimes injured. A spinal cord injury (SCI) can be the result of an accident or from a hard impact. Alcohol can also play a role in SCIs, as can diseases such as arthritis, cancer, and osteoporosis. Whether a spinal cord injury is traumatic, non-traumatic or complete or incomplete, damage to nerve fibers may affect muscles and nerves below the location of the injury. Treatment may include:
- Intravenous (IV) methylprednisolone (may reduce nerve cell damage) and other medications
- Immobilization to promote healing and restore alignment
- Surgery to repair spinal cord damage and relieve nerve pressure
Not all spinal injuries are preventable. Still, there’s no denying the importance of keeping the spine and the discs, muscles, joints, and nerves that support it as healthy as possible with regular exercise and smart diet choices. If you do suspect some type of spinal injury, see your doctor.