The spinal cord is one of the most delicate areas of the body, in addition to being one of the most important. Our spinal cord is considered to be almost the centerpiece of our central nervous system or CNS, and is responsible for relaying messages from the brain through to other areas of the body, using an intricate network of nerves. The spine essentially translates messages and impulses into movements, feelings and more. Considering this vital aspect that is essential to our body’s proper function, you can understand why the spine is so important. Surrounding the spinal cord, are a collection of bones, known as vertebra, and intervertebral discs. These act as both a protective are for the spinal cord and provide our body with its stability, structure, and upright posture. At Comprehensive Spine Care, the top spine surgeon North Jersey has to offer, Dr. Evan Baird, and his colleagues have treated a variety of spine and spinal cord injuries, also known as SCI. From common issues such as herniated discs, to more complex ones like spinal tumors and spinal cord damage. Considered to be the top spine surgeon North Jersey has in practice, Dr. Baird has performed a number of different surgical procedures in order to treat damage to the vertebrae or the discs of the spine, however, when it comes to the actual spinal cord, things are far different. Considering that it is mainly composed of nerve tissue, and its highly delicate nature, spinal cord injuries can have far more drastic effects and may not respond to any types of surgical procedures. Once the spinal cord is severed or damaged, patients can often be left with partial or total paralysis, and in some instances, they may lose feeling, movement, or normal function in certain areas of the body. To better help you to understand some of the possible effects of a spinal cord injury, here are a few of the most common outcomes.
· Loss of Movement &Inadvertent Reflexes
As we previously stated, the spinal cord is responsible for relaying messages from the brain to other parts of the body – leading to movements and actions. In the event the spinal cord has become damaged, these messages can no longer get through and make it past the site of the injury. While normal movement is not possible any longer, one thing that will often occur is the body continuing to exhibit reflexive movements as a response to certain stimuli – as these movements aren’t controlled, they occur on their own. For instance, an individual’s foot moving when touched or tickled.
· Breathing Issues
One of the most lesser known issues as a result of SCI is the inability to breath properly. Considered the top spine surgeon North Jersey has practicing, Dr. Baird often sees patients with minor spinal cord issues experienced poor or labored breathing – therefore more severe damage can be devastating. The muscles needed for breathing and coughing, the diaphragm, intercostal, and abdominal, become extremely weak after a spinal cord injury. Coughing is a vital part of breathing and health, as it allows us to clear bacteria and other secretions from the throat and lungs – if coughing grows weaker, patients are at a much higher risk for pneumonia and other infections. Depending on the specific position of the spinal cord injury, one or more of these breathing muscles might be affected and the patients may require help breathing from a ventilator or may have to undergo a tracheostomy – a procedure in which a tube is places in the windpipe helping avoid any build-up and helps clear the throat, as well as breath better.
· Spinal Shock
Spinal shock is a common condition which occurs immediately following a spinal cord injury. In this condition, the patient will temporarily lose their spinal cord reflexes, possible for days to weeks. This can cause stiffness to develop and other issues.
· Body Temperature Issues
Once a SCI occurs, a patient may no longer be able to produce sweat at any area that is connected to the region below the site of the injury. This is important to understand, as our body’s temperature regulation is controlled by the spinal cord as well. If the signal of being hot or cold, cannot make it back to the brain, then we will not know nor be able to send signals for sweat amongst other things.
· Bowel & Bladder Dysfunction
Again, considering that a spinal cord injury can sever the connection between certain areas of the body, and the brain – often times, the bladder and bowels can no longer be given a directive from the brain, to either “hold it in”, “start” or “stop”. When our bladder is full, nerve impulses are sent to the brain, and a response message telling us to urinate goes from the spine back to the bladder. This means that the bowels and bladder can often lose control and will not be able to be controlled by us.
The spinal cord is vital to our survival and has helped us make it this far as a race, without a solid nerve network of messages and responses we would have constant issues with all of our bodily processes. For more information or other effects of spinal cord injury, contact Comprehensive Spine Care today.