Spine trauma is damage to the spine caused from a sudden traumatic injury caused by an accidental fall or any other physical injury. Spinal injuries may occur while playing, performing normal activities, operating heavy machines, lifting heavy objects, driving automobiles, or when you suffer a fall. Injury to the spine may cause various conditions including fractures, dislocation, partial malalignment (subluxation), disc hernation, hematoma (accumulation of blood) and partial or complete tears of ligaments.
The most common symptom of spinal injuries is pain. Spinal injury causes weakness and sensory loss if the spinal nerves are damaged. Symptoms may proceed to paralysis, limited movement, and immobility. Spinal injuries are diagnosed using spine X-rays and a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the spine.
The treatment will depend entirely on the specific type and location of the injury. You may be treated with pain medications, physical therapy, bracing, and/or surgery. Surgery is recommended when other treatments fail or inappropriate for the specific injury. Some of the common spinal surgeries for spine trauma include:
- Spinal decompression – Decompression is a procedure of relieving pressure on one or many “pinched nerves” of the backbone. This is performed by removing a small portion of the roof of the spinal canal and ligaments to relieve pressure on pinched nerves.
- Discectomy – Is a surgical procedure performed for the removal of the fragment of slipped disc, also known as bulging disc or herniated disc, if it is causing pressure or inflammation of a nerve
- Spinal fusion – Fusion surgery is a surgical procedure where two vertebrae in the spine are fused together using screws and rods. For trauma this is performed in cases where the injury has caused spinal instability.
- Spinal decompression and fusion – This is a surgical procedure that includes both decompression and fusion. Decompression relieves the pressure from the spinal cord and/or nerve roots and fusion surgery helps in joining the two vertebrae together. This procedure is performed to reduce deformity and for stabilization, minimizing neurological injury and promoting early rehabilitation of the spine.
Your spine surgeon may recommend rehabilitation program to promote complete and faster healing.