Spinal Cord Injuries

The spinal cord is the very nerve center of the human body. It carries signals from the brain to every portion of the body and back. These pathways are called nerves, and fall into two distinct categories.

Sensory nerves are those which inform nerves inform the brain of certain stimuli. For example, when you touch a hot stove the nerves in the fingers inform the brain it is hot. The brain then send signals along the second group of nerves, referred to as motor nerves, to tell the hand to move from the source of pain.

Along with brain injuries, spinal cord injuries are often the most serious cases we handle. We have handled hundreds of cases involving motor vehicle collisions in which the persons sustained an injury to the disc, which is the soft, jello-like material between each of the vertebrates. The most common of these injuries is a herniated disc, an injury in which the jello-like material inside the disc is forced outside the disc wall. This material then compresses on the spinal cord, which causes numbness and tingling into the extremities.

This cervical region refers to the set of disc connecting the brain to the thoracic region of the spine. An injury to one of more of these discs at a particular level will cause numbness and tingling down the arm and into the fingers.

The lumbar region of the spine refers to that area between the bottom of the thoracic column and the sacrum. This is the area most commonly injured in traumatic events. An injury to one or more of these disc will often produce numbness and tingling down into the legs.

We take spinal injuries very seriously. In almost every case they alter the injured persons activities of daily living: getting out of bed; personal hygiene; getting dressed; ability to work; recreation; shopping; and, often, intimate relations.

Treatment for spinal injuries falls into two distinct categories; non-operative; or, operatives. We have handled numerous cases involving both.

In most cases the surgeon will recommend that non-operative course of treatment. This will include physical therapy; pain medications; and,  epidural steroid injections. These are injections administered with x-ray guidance directly into the injured disc through a hypodermic needle. Often these treatments offer temporary symptomatic relief. However, under present medical protocols only a prescribed amount only a certain amount of injections can be administered within a prescribed period of time.

After failed non-operative course of treatment, or in an extreme acute injury, the injured person has no alternative but to proceed with surgery. Usually this involves removal of the injured disc and placement of a bone into the space previously occupied by the disc. Unfortunately, this approach reduces the mobility of the spine, as the jello-like material is no longer helping the movement of the adjoining discs.

In the past several years the use of artificial discs for replacement has been performed. However, at present it remains utilized far less than the traditional bone graft.

As with brain injuries, spinal injuries often involve costly medical care for the remainder of the injured person's life.