Signs and Symptoms
Understanding spinal symptoms can be quite complex. However, a simple pathophysiology (abnormalities) lesson can be very helpful.
Spinal pathology refers to the abnormality causing spine problems. Any pathology that causes pressure on the spinal cord or nerves may result in symptoms, namely:
• Weakness, or
• Abnormalities in your ability to use your hands, legs, bladder or bowels.
The Spinal column is the structure that supports your body from your head to your pelvis. It consists of a series of blocks of bone, separated from each other by a “disc” (sometimes referred to as a jelly donut or shock absorber). The complex interaction between the blocks of bone and disc allow a SPECIFIC amount of movement between every vertebra.
The spinal cord and peripheral nerves are located within the bony part of the spinal column. The complex interaction between the spinal column, and the spinal cord is the key to understanding your symptoms.
Spinal problems do not always require surgery. Conservative treatments are the best way to address back pain. Spinal surgery can be delayed or eliminated in the vast majority of new neck and back injuries.
Physical therapy is the best initial form of treatment in many cases after the initial injury to assess stable, non-emergent conditions. Neck and back injuries often require strengthening and re-education of the muscles around the spine to better support the spinal column.
Rehabilitation is offered when the patient’s normal functional capacity is reduced after a back injury. The goal is to regain prior functional status in order to return to daily living and working abilities.
Strengthening of the paraspinous muscles will help decrease repeat injury to the spine. Pilates or other forms of core body strengthening is often used to develop abdomen, thoracic and back (core) strength.
Intervertebral disc decompression (computerized traction) therapy is an option for acute and sub acute disc injuries. The system allows the disc some relief from the natural compression process while it is still in the healing phase.
Proper diagnosis through the use of X-rays, MRI, CT scan are common modalities for proper diagnosis of the problem.
Injections into the symptomatic region such as epidural and selective nerve root blocks as well as other specialized injections are diagnostic and can also be therapeutic in many instances.
Medication is an integral part of conservative treatment as it can help reduce the inflammatory process that leads to spasm, pain and further deterioration of the injured spine.