A Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) refers to the damage sustained to the spinal cord (normally protected by the bone of vertebral column aka spinal column) in such a manner as to incapacitate the individual and may either be temporary or permanent. Whether or not the individual can recover from this type of injury will depend on a number of different factors that have to do with the location and severity of the injury. Unfortunately, injuries of this type can result in serious debilitating conditions that can include; partial paralysis, total paralysis, incontinence and the inability of organs to function properly.
While different types of trauma may result in a spinal cord injury (such as automobile accidents), in this region, Las Vegas sports activities can account for a significant percentage of these injuries. One of the major determining factors of the effects of this injury will also involve the location of the injury. For example, an injury suffered on the lower part of the spinal cord may result in paraplegia, while an injury to the upper part of the spinal cord could result in quadriplegia (tetraplegia). One of the many complications that may arise from these types of injuries may also include the wasting away of the muscles in the affected area (atrophy).
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Spinal cord injury symptoms can include:
- Signs of shock
- Stiffness or pain located in the neck or back area
- Loss of consciousness
- Tingling or numbness in the person’s extremities
- The inability to move the legs and/or arms
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Difficulty walking
The diagnosis of a Las Vegas spinal cord injury (and, of course, all other locations) can sometimes be difficult to identify, therefore a number of tests are employed. These tests can include:
- Complete X-rays of the spinal, in order to look for spinal column fractures.
- Magnetic stimulation or Somatosensory-evoked potential (SSEP) in order to indicate whether or not nerve signals can move through the spinal cord.
- A “Cat Scan” (CT scan) – Which utilizes computers to create images in order to reveal damage locations and blood clots.
- Myelogram – This is a spinal X-ray that is taken after the injection of a specialized dye.
- MRI – A magnetic resonance imaging scan that shows an image of the injured area by utilizing radio waves and a magnetic field.
Spinal cord treatment can vary as widely as the types and severities of the injury itself. However, if a spinal cord injury is suspected (ex. – after a severe tackle on the football field) then it is imperative that the injured person is moved gently onto their back and then moved as little as possible. Other treatments may include:
Various Medications that can be administered through an IV. One of the more common medicines used is methylprednisolone (A-Methapred, Solu-Medrol). There have even been reports of mild improvements if the methylprednisolone is administered within eight hours of the spinal injury. This is due to its reduction of nerve cell damage and its ability to decrease inflammation. But this medication should not be considered as a spinal injury “cure”.
Immobilization goes along with the aforementioned suggestion of keeping the patient as still as possible. During treatment, traction may be used in order to provide spinal stabilization and provide proper spinal alignment. Special beds and neck collars may also be used.
Surgery can become necessary in order to stabilize the spine and remove various foreign objects. It can also address spine compression by correcting fractured vertebrae and herniated disks.
Experimental treatments are being produced and tested on an ongoing basis. These treatments are designed to control spinal inflammation and to assist with nerve regeneration.
Studies have been conducted that indicate the role of massage therapy in those who are recovering from spinal injuries. Benefits that have been reported include:
- Decrease in psychological depression
- Decrease in anxiety
- Muscle strength improvement
- Range of motion improvement
There are also natural substances that can be incorporated into an alternative spinal injury treatment regimen. These include:
- DMSO (Dimethyl sulfoxide) is not only known to relieve pain and inflammation, but is currently under considerable investigation when it comes to the treatment of spinal injuries. DMSO is a natural substance that has been shown to both carry medications to the bloodstream without the use of an I.V. or standard injection and to directly address certain diseases without additional medication added.
- Helichrysum (essential oil) has been used to regenerate nerves within the ear, which has been effective when treating those who were born deaf due to non-connecting nerves. Spinal nerve regeneration is also under investigation. However, therapeutic grade oil should be used, as opposed to perfume grade oil. Other Natural Substances
Other alternative medicine treatments include substances that promote blood circulation and include:
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10
- Ginko Biloba
- MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
While no definitive complete cure of Spinal Cord Injuries has yet to be discovered, there are a number of treatment options that can aid in fighting this debilitating illness. Contact your doctor and local Las Vegas alternative medical practitioner for more details.