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Spine Injuries

Spinal injuries are the most common injuries that may occur while playing, performing normal activities, operating heavy machines, lifting heavy objects, driving automobiles, or when you suffer a fall.

Common spinal injuries you may suffer include:

  • Fractures
  • Dislocation of adjacent bones
  • Partial misalignment (subluxation) of adjacent bones
  • Disc compression (herniated disc)
  • Hematoma (accumulation of blood)
  • Partial or complete tears of ligaments

The most common symptom of spinal injuries is pain. Some injuries may damage spinal nerves that may cause inflammation, loss of muscle control and loss of sensation. Symptoms may proceed to paralysis, limited movement, and immobility. Workplace injuries are diagnosed using X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Depending on the type and severity of injury, you may be treated with pain medications, epidural injections (injecting into spine), physiotherapy, and surgery. Surgery is recommended when other treatments are a failure or inappropriate. Surgery for spinal condition depends on the type and severity of injury. Some of the common spinal surgeries include:

Coccygectomy

Coccygectomy is a surgical procedure which involves removal of part or entire portion of tailbone (coccyx) present at the end of your spine. It is performed in patients who have persistent tailbone pain due to injury, fall or contact sports and when all other conservative treatments are a failure.
During the surgery, an incision will be made on your lower back, a few inches above the anus following which the muscles will be retracted to find the damaged or broken coccyx. Then a part or the entire coccyx is removed.

Decompression

Spinal decompression is a procedure of relieving pressure on one or many “pinched nerves” of the backbone. It can be achieved either by surgical or non-surgical method. It is used to treat conditions that cause chronic backache like herniated disc, disc bulge, sciatica, spinal stenosis.

Non-surgical spinal decompression is performed using decompression machine, a safe and non-invasive method.

Surgical spinal decompression is performed by two procedures:

  • Microdiscectomy: A minimally invasive procedure which involves removal of a portion of a slipped disc by a surgical instrument or LASER.
  • Laminectomy: This is a procedure in which a small portion of the roof of the spinal bone is removed to relieve pressure on pinched nerve. This is performed as a last resort, when conservative treatment fails to provide relief from back pain.

Posterior and Anterior Spinal Fusions

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure done for the treatment of upper and lower spine problems. It is mostly done in the lower back (lumbar region) joining two or more spinal bones to avoid the motion between them. This prevents the stretching of nerves and surrounding ligaments and muscles.

Anterior spinal fusion is a procedure where the surgeon makes an incision on the patient’s front part of the body; and posterior spinal fusion is a procedure where the incision is made on the patient’s back exposing the spine.

Laminectomy:

Laminectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the portion of the lamina (roof) of the spinal bone. It helps to relieve the pain associated with narrowing of spinal column. The procedure removes bones and damaged discs and makes space for spinal nerves and column.

In a traditional laminectomy the incision made is large and the overlying muscles must be cut.

In a minimal invasive technique very tiny incisions are made, the back muscles are moved aside and the lamina is removed.

Discectomy:

It is a surgical procedure performed on the spine for the removal of the fragment of slipped disc. Slipped disc is also known as bulging disc or herniated disc.

Slipped disc occurs when the inner core of the spinal disc bulges out through the outer layer of the disc. This fragment may press the spinal cord and the nerves that surround the spinal cord. This pressure causes the symptoms of slipped disc. Here the surgeon uses the small incision to look at the actual herniated disc, to remove the disc and relieve the pressure on the nerve. It is also called as open discectomy.

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusions

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion is a surgical procedure of the lower back where the damaged disc which is located between the two spinal bones (vertebrae) is removed and the vertebrae are fused together.

In transforaminal procedure, the damaged disc is removed from the side and is replaced with artificial device (prosthesis) made of bone, plastic or ceramic. Space around the prosthesis is filled with milled bone and then stabilized with titanium screws and rods. The prosthesis and the milled bone will fuse with other vertebrae over the time and provide more stability to the spinal column.

This surgery is performed for various conditions such as degenerative disc disease, low grade spondylolisthesis, spinal instability and others.

Anterior Cervical Decompression Fusions

Decompression fusion is a surgical procedure to remove the pressure from the spinal cord and/or nerve roots by reconstructing the upper part of the spinal cord. This procedure is performed to reduce deformity and stabilization, minimizing neurological injury and early rehabilitation of the spine.

Cervical decompression is performed by making a small incision in front part of the neck. The fusion can be done by replacing the damaged part with new bone where the bone is collected either from different body part of the same patient, from a donor or an artificial bone. Spine surgeons prefer anterior procedure because it provides a better access to site of injury.

Your spine surgeon may recommend for rehabilitation that includes both physiotherapy and occupational therapy to promote complete and faster healing.

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