Anatomy of Spinal Injuries and Herniated Discs
Spinal injuries from car accidents or slip and fall injuries are some of the most common conditions treated at Sterling Medical Group. We also provide treatment for spinal conditions such as herniated disc disease, which can be the result of long term “wear and tear” on your body, or from immediate trauma such as a car accident or hard fall. These conditions and injuries can be very painful and serious.
Your spinal cord has inter-vertebral discs that act as the “shock absorbers” between each of the vertebrae in your spine. These discs are made of fibers and have a soft, gel-like center, which is the main cushion that absorbs shock for the neighboring vertebrae. When a tear occurs to the disc, the soft gel-like center can protrude into the spinal canal,which is known as a ruptured disc or herniated disc. This is a common disorder but also very painful, as it can press on a nerve root or the spinal cord itself. If the disc is leaking fluid, it may further irritate and inflame the nerve roots, causing even more pain. Herniated discs in the mid back, also known as the thoracic region, can be much more serious. Since the spinal canal is smaller in this area, it does not have much space around the spinal cord. Depending on the severity of the injury, a herniated disc may put pressure on the thoracic spinal cord, leading to paralysis below the waist.
Common Causes of Spinal Injuries
Herniated discs can come from long term deterioration caused by hard labor, high impact sports, or other recreational activities. Over time, the “wear and tear” on your inter-vertebral discs causes scar tissue to build up. The scar tissue is weaker than normal tissue. Another cause may be sudden trauma, like a hard fall where you land in a sitting position. This may put a lot of pressure on the spine and cause a ruptured disc or even a broken vertebra. If your disc has been weakened over time by repeat injuries or “wear and tear”, it may make it even more susceptible for a fall or other trauma to cause a ruptured disc. Genetics may also play a small role in this.
Spinal Injury Symptoms
A herniated disc will cause back pain and may even cause pain that travels to other areas of the body, such as the arms or legs. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “your spine is the key to health”, they you may know that your spinal cord is responsible for many important functions. When it becomes injured, it may send abnormal communications from the damaged nerves to your brain. These communications are also known as signals, and tell your brain how your body is feeling. If these signals get messed up due to your spinal injury, you may experience pain in other areas of your body that were not injured. This is due to the abnormal signals being sent to your brain. For this reason, it’s common that many spinal injury patients also receive pain management treatments for not only back pain relief, but for pain relief in other areas of the body.
Spinal Injury Treatments
Treatment for herniated discs, broken vertebrae and other spinal injuries will vary widely between patients, and are most commonly handled by a neurosurgeon. A neurosurgeon specializes in treatment of the brain, spine, spinal cord and nerves, and may have additional training to focus specifically on spine surgery. At Sterling Medical Group, our team of world-class doctors will perform a thorough review to diagnose and create a comprehensive treatment plan. It’s important to our team that every patient fully understand all of their treatment options available and the recommendations from our doctors. Neurosurgery or orthopedic surgery isn’t the only option for back injury treatment, and is only used if unresponsive to other non-surgical procedures. By focusing on a multi-disciplinary approach, we’ll use a myriad of treatments to achieve the best outcome possible.