Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: July 15, 2019
Your spinal cord has nerves that relay signals back and forth from the brain to the rest of your body, but if something inhibits these nerve signals, pain and other issues can develop. Acute physical trauma like a car accident is one way to damage and compress the nerves in your spinal cord, but there are also less traumatic injuries that can cause nerve impingement. Below, we take a closer look at some of the more common causes of spinal cord compression, and how a spine specialist can help treat the issue.
Causes and Symptoms of Spinal Cord Compression
Spinal cord compression can occur abruptly or slowly over time. Since abrupt compression is usually easy to diagnose and seek assistance for, we’re going to focus on some of the compression causes that can develop more slowly over time. However, some of these causes can still have an acute moment of injury. Some common causes of spinal cord compression include:
- Arthritic degeneration
- Bulging spinal disc
- Herniated spinal disc
- Bleeding/clot disorders
- Bone spur formation
- Cancerous and noncancerous tumor formation
- Spinal stenosis
Symptoms of spinal cord compression vary based on the specific cause of compression, but for many patients, they experience a range of symptoms including regionalized pain, shooting pain, numbness, a pins and needles-like sensation, bowel or bladder dysfunction, and inhibited range of motion.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Spinal Cord Compression
Since so many different issues could be causing your spinal cord compression, it’s important that you seek out a spine specialist in order to get a precise diagnosis. Dr. Sinicropi begins all his diagnostic exams by reviewing the patient’s medical history and then asking them about their symptoms. From there, he may ask you to perform some simple movements to see which actions provide relief or lead to symptom onset. This will help him pinpoint the location of the suspected compression.
From there, he’ll likely order imaging tests to find the exact cause and location of the compression. X-rays, MRIs and CT scans work wonders for providing this information that cannot be determined with a physical exam.
Treatment depends on the specific cause of compression. For example, compression caused by bone spurs, disc issues or spinal stenosis often respond well to conservative care options like rest, anti-inflammatory medication, exercise and physical therapy. For blot clot disorders or tumors, a more hands-on approach may be necessary. Your doctor can walk you through the specifics of each operation if it turns out you need surgery, but the ultimate goal will be to decompress the area and stabilize the site to prevent recurrence. These surgeries tend to have very high success rates, but they are higher if the condition is caught sooner rather than later.
If you have questions about spinal cord compression problems, or if those symptoms are hitting a little too close to home and you want a spine specialist to look at your back, give Dr. Sinicropi’s office a call today.