Some Common Problems Associated With Spinal Cord


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The spine is what determines how comfortably we walk, stand, sit or even rest. There are some problems associated with the spinal cord that cause a great deal of discomfort to the patient. Some of them are discussed below.

Cervical spondylosis

A common symptom is pain in the neck. It may be a natural consequence of aging for those above 50 years of age. Like the other parts of our body, bones in the neck also tend to progressively degenerate as we age. Cervical spondylosis may be a result of bony spurs besides problems with ligaments and discs. The spinal canal may tend to narrow leading to compression of the spinal cord which may pinch the nerves leading to the arms. Spinal cord compression can be a result of injuries as well. This may lead to pain ranging from mild discomfort to severe dysfunction.

Spinal cord damage

There are many ways in which the spinal cord can get damaged. It can get cut in an accident, compressed or get destroyed due to an infection. The spinal cord may also get damaged when its blood supply gets cut off, or it is affected by diseases like cervical spondylosis, spinal cord cysts or multiple sclerosis which tend to alter its nerve function.

Bony Dysfunction

Following spinal cord infection, joint as well as muscle contractures can occur rapidly which tends to complicate rehabilitation later on. Early stabilization of the spine fracture means early mobilization leading to fewer complications. Each complication increases the hospital stay as well as increasing the rehab stay.

Cardiovascular Disease

A major long-term risk of spinal cord injury is cardiovascular disease. People who are suffering from spinal cord injury tend to lead rather sedentary lives and are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Thus, careful assessment of cardiovascular function as well as the encouragement of exercise programs is a necessary long-term aspect of spinal cord injury management and care.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a potentially severe complication of spinal cord injury. In fact, DVT in the lower leg is nearly universal during the early phase of rehabilitation. Thromboses in the thigh is of a great concern as there is a high risk of it becoming dislodged and passing through the vascular tree to the lungs, where a major obstruction of the arteries which lead to the lung can even be fatal.

Heterotopic Ossification (HO) and Cysts

Heterotopic ossification (HO) refers to the development of abnormal bone in non-skeletal tissue, mainly in the region of the hip and knee joints. It can occur in many spinal cord injured individuals and tends to develop within days following the injury or it may even take place after several months. Though there is usually no significant additional physical limitation, but in some patients, HO may lead to a major limitation of joint motion.

Symptoms include difficulty in the ability to perform activities of daily living, especially those activities which require bending at the hips. The other symptoms include increased spasticity, swelling of the entire leg, as well as elevated temperature.

These are but a few problems related to the dysfunction of the spinal cord itself and complications arising out of the dysfunction.