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CONDITIONS

Spinal Cord Injuries

Your spinal cord is a remarkable structure, a highway of nerve fibers that serves as the central information superhighway between your brain and the rest of your body. It’s an intricate system that enables you to move, feel, and experience the world around you. But what happens when this delicate network sustains an injury? The consequences can be life-altering. At Gottlieb Spine, we understand the challenges that come with spinal cord injuries and are here to provide you with compassionate care and innovative treatments. Schedule a consultation today.

What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal Cord InjuriesA spinal cord injury occurs when damage to the spinal cord leads to a loss of function or sensation. The spinal cord is a long, tubular bundle of nerves that runs from the brainstem down to the lower back within the spinal column, a flexible structure composed of bones and discs. The spinal cord plays a crucial role in transmitting signals between the brain and the body.

Spinal cord injuries can significantly limit your ability to move freely, greatly impacting your overall quality of life. These injuries can also result in varying levels of disability, causing the loss of motor, sensory, and autonomic nervous functions. Individuals with spinal cord injuries face two to five times higher odds of premature mortality.

Due to the critical nature of spinal cord injuries, it is important to seek prompt medical attention from a spine specialist. Dr. Jamie Gottlieb and his team of spine surgeons will recommend the best spinal cord injury treatment for your needs.

What are the Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury?

The most common sign of a spinal cord injury involves a loss of movement or sensation below the injury level. Your symptoms may vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. In some cases, a spinal cord injury may only cause minor symptoms, such as tingling or numbness in the affected area. In more severe cases, the injury can result in partial or complete paralysis, affecting one or more limbs or your entire body.

Early intervention and treatment are vital to prevent further damage from your spinal cord injury and improve your chances of recovery. Common signs that may indicate a spinal cord injury include:

  • Discomfort or pressure in the back or neck: You might feel discomfort or a sense of pressure in your back or neck, especially if your injury is a result of trauma. These symptoms could also be warning signs of a more severe injury.
  • Breathing difficulties: If the injury is near your neck, it may affect your ability to breathe. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any difficulty in breathing.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control: A loss of bladder or bowel control may indicate damage to the spinal cord nerves controlling these functions. If left unaddressed, this injury can significantly impact your quality of life.
  • Tingling or numbness: You may experience tingling or numbness in your extremities, signaling the pinching of a spinal cord nerve.
  • Sexual dysfunction: A spinal cord injury can also affect your sexual arousal and response.

What Causes a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injuries can occur due to various factors, with the most common causes being:

  • Trauma: Accidents such as car crashes, falls, sports-related injuries, and acts of violence are the leading causes of traumatic spinal cord injuries. These injuries often result from the sudden impact that damages the spine and spinal cord.
  • Falls: Falls are a frequent cause of spinal cord injuries, particularly among older adults. Slip-and-fall accidents or falls from heights can lead to serious spinal cord damage.
  • Motor vehicle accidents: Car, motorcycle, and bicycle accidents are common causes of spinal cord injuries. The force generated in these accidents can damage the spine and spinal cord.
  • Sports and recreational activities: High-impact sports like football, rugby, and diving can result in spinal cord injuries, especially if proper safety precautions are not taken.
  • Medical conditions: Non-traumatic spinal cord injuries can also occur due to medical conditions such as tumors, infections, spinal cord inflammation, or degenerative diseases like spinal stenosis.
  • Congenital conditions: Some individuals are born with congenital conditions that affect the spinal cord’s development, leading to spinal cord injuries later in life.
  • Recreational accidents: Activities like skiing, snowboarding, or horseback riding can sometimes result in spinal cord injuries when accidents happen.

It’s important to note that the severity of a spinal cord injury can vary widely, depending on the cause and location of the injury. Seeking immediate medical attention from a spine specialist like Dr. Gottlieb is crucial to minimize damage and improve the chances of recovery.

How are Spinal Cord Injuries Treated?

Spinal cord injury treatment aims to stabilize the spine, prevent further damage, and maximize recovery. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, your doctor may be able to control your symptoms with medication and immobilization devices.

Spinal cord surgery may be necessary to address various issues associated with spinal cord injuries, such as decompressing the spinal cord, stabilizing the spine, or repairing damaged structures. Surgical procedures may involve the removal of damaged tissue, the fusion of spinal segments, or the insertion of hardware to stabilize the spine. These options include:

  • Decompression surgery: This surgery aims to relieve pressure on the spinal cord due to bone fragments, herniated discs, and other structures.
  • Spinal fusion: Spinal fusion helps prevent excessive movement of the injured area, which can cause pain and further damage.
  • Disc Replacement Surgery: Rather than fusing two vertebrae, an artificial disc can be implanted to replace a damaged disc. This can help maintain motion and flexibility in the spine.
  • Laminectomy: A laminectomy involves the removal of the lamina to create more space within the spinal canal. This procedure is used to decompress the spinal cord and nerves when there is pressure due to bone spurs, herniated discs, or other factors.
  • Discectomy: In cases where a herniated disc is pressing on the spinal cord or nerves, a discectomy may be performed to remove the damaged disc material.
  • Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty: These procedures are typically used to treat spinal fractures, which can sometimes accompany spinal cord injuries.

Recovering from a spinal cord injury can be a long and challenging journey, but with the right medical care and support, significant improvements in function and quality of life are possible. At Gottlieb Spine, we are committed to providing compassionate and cutting-edge care to individuals with spinal cord injuries.

Updated on Jul 2, 2024 by Dr. Jamie Gottlieb (Orthopedic Spine Surgeon) of Orthopedic Spine Center: Dr. Jamie Gottlieb

Dr. Jamie Gottlieb, MD

Dr. Jamie Gottlieb, MD, is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon with over two decades of experience treating chronic and degenerative spinal conditions, such as spinal stenosis and ongoing neck and lower back pain. Dr. Gottlieb prioritizes building strong relationships with his patients, understanding their medical history and goals, and ensuring personalized treatment. Emphasizing non-surgical solutions whenever possible, Dr. Gottlieb is also well-versed in traditional, minimally invasive, and motion preservation surgery techniques.

Dr. Gottlieb earned his medical degree from Cornell University and completed his residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. After completing his residency, Dr. Gottlieb went on to gain experience as a spine surgeon and an emergency response physician at hospitals and emergency care centers in Fort Worth and Dallas. He also served as a research associate at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego and has continued to publish his findings in respected publications.

More about Dr. Gottlieb
Orthopedic Spine Center: Dr. Jamie Gottlieb
6121 State Hwy 161, Ste 225
Irving, TX 75038
(469) 528-1169
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Top Quality Care at Gottlieb Spine

Our team, led by Dr. Jamie Gottlieb, works to develop personalized treatment plans tailored to each patient’s unique needs and goals. If you or a loved one is facing the life-altering effects of a spinal cord injury, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with us. Call our office in Irving today.

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