Spinal Cord Injury

hThe spinal cord is part of the central nervous system.  It forms at the point where the brainstem enters the base of the skull and meets the spinal column.  The bony spinal column is composed of vertebrae and intravertebral discs. It provides support for the body and protection for the delicate spinal cord.  The spinal cord functions to transmit nerve signals to and from the brain.  Injury to the spinal cord can result in numbness, weakness, or paralysis.  Furthermore, injury to the spinal cord is often irreversible.

Causes of Spinal Cord Injury

There are several potential causes for spinal cord injury.  Trauma is a common cause that results  from traumatic impact that compresses or crushes the delicate spinal cord tissue.  Often, this is associated with fracture or dislocation of the spinal column that results from blunt trauma.  Car accidents, falls from significant height, or unprotected headfirst neck injuries are common types of accidents that result in spinal cord injury.  Spinal cord injury may also results from degenerative changes that occur within the spinal column.  Spinal deformities, disc herniations, spinal stenosis, and spinal instability can all lead to spinal cord injury.  In these cases, spinal cord injury usually occurs over several years or decades.  It is important to recognize the symptoms of spinal cord injury in an effort to prevent permanent disability.

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury

Symptoms of spinal cord injury vary according to the degree of damage caused to the spinal cord.  In extreme cases paralysis occurs below the level of injury.  Incomplete spinal cord injuries can also occur that result in various degrees of sensory and/or motor dysfunction.  Spinal cord injury may also result in bowel and/or bladder dysfunction.  When gradual spinal cord injury occurs such as with degenerative changes of the spinal column, symptoms may initially present with decreased sensation in the bottom of the feet, difficulty with ambulating or maintaining balance, difficulty with fine hand motor control, or clumsiness.

Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury

WARNING: If patients or healthcare providers suspect spinal cord injury, emergent neurosurgical evaluation is warranted!

Treatment of spinal cord injury is generally directed at decompressing the spinal cord and stabilizing the spinal column in an effort to prevent further injury.  Sudden traumatic episodes of spinal cord injury may initially be treated with steroids with the hope that this will reduce inflammation and allow the spinal cord tissue to recover.  However, recovery from spinal cord injury is often not possible.  Therefore, efforts are made to decompress the spinal cord or repair and stabilize the spinal column to prevent further neurologic decline.  If the spinal column is not stabilized or the spinal cord is not decompressed, further injury and neurologic impairment is likely.  Any form of spinal cord injury warrants immediate neurosurgical evaluation.

At Princeton Neurological Surgery, Dr. Lipani is a board certified fellowship trained spine surgeon in New Jersey who performs minimally invasive spine surgery as well as complex spinal procedures. Dr. Lipani is a specialist in the treatment for spinal cord injury and many other spinal conditions such as spinal stenosis, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, low back pain, neck pain, spinal tumors, spinal cancer and more. Dr. Lipani treats patients from around the world, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey including locally from Princeton, New Brunswick, Hopewell, Pennington and communities throughout Somerset, Middlesex, Ocean, Burlington, Monmouth and Mercer Counties for spinal cord injury. Dr. Lipani offers image guided spine surgery approaches for spinal cord injury treatment, tailored to the needs of each patient. For state-of-the-art spinal cord injury treatment, call or email us to schedule a consultation at our offices in Hamilton, New Jersey or Bridgewater, New Jersey!

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