Spine trauma can result from a number of different sources and generate a few, serious medical conditions. Whether through a sports related injury, slip and fall injury, automobile injury or other activity, people of all ages and walks of life are susceptible to spine trauma. That being said, those that place their bodies in more dangerous scenarios (athletes, laborers, thrill seekers, etc.) are going to be at an elevated risk for a potential spine injury. Spinal trauma could produce severe consequences like fractures, vertebrae misalignment or dislodgment, discs hernias, hematomas, damaged or torn tendons and ligaments and debilitating damage to the spinal cord.
Symptoms of Spine Trauma
Severe pain, with its debilitating effects, is always the immediate consequence of spine trauma and it is the main symptom. If the nerves were damaged, a sensory loss could be experienced together with partial or total paralysis and immobility. To diagnose spine trauma, the doctor needs to use on or all computerized diagnostic tools like CT Scans, X-rays and MRIs.
Spine Trauma treatment
To treat or fix a spine trauma, the surgeon first has to determine the specific damage done and the exact place on the backbone where it occurred. A conservative treatment approach may be recommended initially. Pain relievers, spine injections (epidural) and physical therapy are the usual treatments. If a conservative approach fails, then surgery will be conducted to provide the necessary relief from the patient’s spine trauma.
The type of spine surgery will depend on the kind of damage done, its severity and location. These surgeries for spine trauma are:
- Coccygectomy – the coccyx is the bone at the end of your spine, the tailbone. When the coccyx is damaged by a violent fall or any other injury, it may be necessary to replace part or the entire bone through a coccygectomy, especially when all other treatments failed to provide meaningful relief.
- Decompression of the spine – a factor that can create a spine injury or result from spine trauma is excessive pressure on the nerve root. As the spinal nerve root acts as the means of communication between the brain and the rest of the body, efforts must be made to decompress the spine. These surgeries can be of two types: (1) microdiscectomy, a minimally invasive surgery where a piece of a disc is cut off by surgical tools or lasers, and (2) laminectomy, the removal of the lamina, the vertebrae portion on top of the spinal cord. The purpose of both procedures is to relieve pressure that is being placed on the nerve root.
- Discectomy – the removal of any part of a damaged vertebrae disc: a slipped disc, bulging disc or herniated disc may require a discectomy
- Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion – sometimes is not enough to eliminate a part of the vertebral disc. In those cases, a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion is performed where the entire disc is removed, and the two vertebrae become fused as one.
- Decompression Fusion – this is a combination of both decompression and interbody fusion. First, the doctor performs a pressure relieving procedure, whether microdiscectomy or laminectomy, eliminating spinal cord pressure. Then the second part will be a fusion surgery to fuse together two vertebrae. This fusion will improve spine strength and stability. This type of surgery is recommended primarily when spine trauma results in a deformity that disrupts the integrity of the patient’s spine.
Regardless of the procedure performed, the doctor will prescribe rehabilitation exercises and therapies to accelerate healing and minimize recovery time.
Work closely with your doctor’s instructions and guidance to ensure a safe, complete and quick recovery from your spine trauma injuries.