Spinal column injury — diagnosis and treatment options

The parts of the spinal column are built to withstand a great amount of stress, but they can be overwhelmed by the force of a traumatic injury. Repetitive stress injuries, sports injuries and car crashes are a few ways the vertebrae, ligaments and discs, as well as adjacent nerves, can be harmed.

In the most severe cases, a spinal column injury can cause paralysis and loss of motor or sensory function. Even in cases that are less severe, spinal injury can lead to compression or irritation of the spinal cord or adjacent nerve roots by conditions like a herniated disc. Pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness can result. If you are currently dealing with a spinal column injury, it is important to keep a positive attitude and remember that it is possible to improve your quality of life. Learning more about how these injuries are diagnosed and what the treatment options are can make you a more involved patient with a better chance of returning to the quality of life you deserve.

Diagnosing your spinal column injury

Severe injuries to the spinal column, especially the spinal cord, are treated as medical emergencies and often require intensive care. In less severe cases, where you are cleared by onsite medical personnel to leave the site of injury or accident, you may be recommended to see your primary care doctor for a follow-up visit to diagnose the extent of your spinal column injury. This usually includes methods like the following:

  • Physical examination
  • Discussion of symptoms and any impairments to mobility
  • Review of your medical history
  • Diagnostic imagery like an X-ray or MRI

If you are diagnosed with nerve compression as a result of your spinal column injury, most doctors will initially recommend a course of conservative treatment options.

Treatment for injury-related nerve compression

Common nonsurgical treatments for symptoms caused by a less severe spinal column injury include pain medication, physical therapy and epidural steroid injections. Spine surgery may become an option if weeks or months of conservative treatment do not bring the necessary relief for a return to normal, comfortable activity.

Depending on the severity of the spinal column injury, a patient may be able to find relief from chronic neck or back pain at Laser Spine Institute. Contact us to learn more about our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that offers a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open neck or back procedures.^

For a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to one of our Patient Empowerment Consultants today.