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A spinal cord injury involves damage to the spinal cord either from trauma, loss of the normal blood supply, or compression caused by a tumor or infection. These injuries can either be complete; wherein there is a complete loss of sensation and muscle function in the body, below the level of the injury or incomplete; wherein there is some remaining function below the level of the injury. In most cases, both sides of the body are affected equally.
Classification of the spinal cord injuries
- High-cervical: It involves the topmost vertebrae in the spinal column, which can result in partial or full paralysis if the spinal cord is severed.
- Low-cervical: Damage to this area can affect the function of the upper limbs.
- Thoracic: It involves the center of the spinal column; damage to this area can impact the muscles and nerves of the trunk.
- Lumbar: It is the commonest site of lower back pain; damage to this area can affect the lower back and limbs.
- Sacral: Any trauma to the tailbone can cause damage to the nerves in the sacral part of the spine.
Several cases of spinal cord injury are treated with surgery. The two major goals of surgery involve relieving the pressure on the spinal cord and stabilizing the spine.
Quick recovery from spinal cord injuries
Damage to the spinal cord often causes inflammation of the surrounding tissues. A smooth and quick recovery can be achieved by promptly addressing the inflammation post-injury. Following tips can help regain a normal range of motion, promote fast healing, and eliminate pain:
- Cold therapy: One of the best ways to treat inflammation is with cold application. The lower temperature causes constriction of blood vessels, which reduces the flow of blood to the injured area and helps control swelling. Additionally, a reduced body temperature around an injury slows down cellular metabolism and cell death, minimizing the amount of tissue repair required. Also, pain reduction by a brief deadening of nerve endings and lessening sensation in the affected area is achieved with cold application.
- Ample rest: Overexertion has to be avoided during the recovery period to ensure that the body gets a lot of rest. Adequate rest needs to be supplemented with a healthy diet to provide the body with all the nutrients it needs for healing.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy is an important component of fast recovery in a spinal cord injury. Gentle strengthening and stretching exercises will help an individual regain range of motion, improve flexibility, and build the surrounding muscles to support the spine. It is advised to work closely with a physical therapist and follow their instructions for better results.
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