Spinal Cord Injuries: aka Spinal Cord Blow, Dislocated Vertebrae, Bone Disc Injury, Severed Spinal Cord, Complete Spinal Cord Injury
What is it?
Spinal cord injuries commonly occurs when an injury or blow dislocates or factures the vertebrae in the spine. This means the bone discs that support the spine become broken. Most spinal injuries do not sever or completely break the spinal cord, but they may damage pieces of the spinal cord’s vertebrae.
When these pieces of the spinal cord tear spinal cord tissue, it can press down on parts of the nerves surrounding the spinal cord and this can interfere with signals that are passing to and from the brain.
Complete spinal cord injuries result in an inability to relay messages to and from the brain from below the spinal cord injury.
Neurosurgery is a form of spinal cord surgery that addresses spinal cord injuries. Neurosurgery addresses injuries to the spine, brain and peripheral or surrounding nerves. Neurosurgery allows doctors to remove clots that can form from injuries and remove fluid that can accumulate in the spinal column which can increase pressure on nerves and the brain.
Alternatives to Surgery
Alternatives to surgery will include rehabilitation and medication management for pain and side-effects of injury, including tingling and numbness. Side effects of spinal cord injury may include partial paralysis.
Neurosurgeons can also perform spinal fusion surgery to help relieve pain associated with broken backs and necks. The complexity of the procedure will depend in part on the specific type of spinal cord injury present. For example, the neurosurgeon may perform a lumbar microdiscectomy or the surgeon may perform a laminectomy, where the surgeon relieves pressure on the nerve roots in the spine. In other surgeries the surgeon may remove lumbar discs using precise techniques to help alleviate pain and compression. This procedure is often referred to as a lumbar microdiscectomy.
Before the Operation
Sometimes surgery to the spinal cord can repair some of the damage to the nerve root and relieve some of the pain associated with spinal cord injury. Prior to surgery the doctor will evaluate a patient’s prospects for recovery and the long-term effects of treatment. Medication use and a patient’s overall medical history are reviewed prior to surgery.
After the Operation- In the Hospital
Depending on the complexity of the surgery the patient will spend one or several days in the hospital recovering. During the first day the patient will receive palliative care and the nursing staff will encourage the patient after the patient recovers from anesthesia to get up at some point during the day when appropriate to walk around.
This will actually expedite or speed up the healing process. Many people think rest and relaxation are the best steps toward recovering. While it is important to rest and recover properly, it is also important to get up and stretch the body and get the circulation moving. Gentle movements like walking can help stimulate or inspire healing. If you are feeling queasy or unsteady make sure you have someone supervising you at all times to avoid an unwanted fall or spill.
After the Operation- At Home
After the operation you will require someone to take or drive you home and supervise your activities for a day or so until you get your feet wet at home. You may find it helpful to have someone nearby you can call on in an emergency. Having a few frozen meals handy prepared ahead of time will also help you fare much better in the days following your surgery.
Your doctor will schedule a follow up exam with you within 1 week and then again in a couple of weeks to monitor your progress. Most patients will take pain relievers during the first few days to 10 days following surgery to help cope with the pain and swelling associated with surgery.
As with any surgery there are complications including infection, worsening of herniated discs, fatigue and complications associated with herniated discs or incomplete resolution of pain syndromes. Make sure you consult with your health doctor about other possible complications that may result following your surgery.
Following a spinal cord injury there are many steps you can take to regain your health and wellness. While alternative healing modalities can be helpful for restoring flexibility and strength, many patients find a combination of treatments including physical therapy and occupational therapy as well as surgery may help them best regain a significantly improved quality of life.
Estimated Costs for Spinal Cord Surgeries
The type of surgery you have and rehabilitation needed following your injury will dramatically impact the costs of fees associated with spinal cord injuries and surgeries. As you can see form the chart below the prices vary significantly. To get a more accurate price you will need a private consultation.