Spinal Nerve Injuries – North Texas*

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About Spinal Nerve Injuries

A spinal cord injury is identified when there is damage to any part of the spinal cord or the spinal canal that causes changes in strength, sensation, and other body functions. Spinal nerve injuries can be caused by the gradual deterioration of spinal vertebrae and intervertebral discs, or they can occur because of sudden trauma, such as from a fall or a car accident. With more than 15 years of experience treating spinal cord injuries, board-certified spine surgeon Dr. Kendall Carll is skilled to help restore your nerve function and decrease your discomfort through treatments at Spine Center of North Texas. His medical offices in Addison, Frisco, and Plano are equipped to diagnose and treat physical ailments that are connected to spinal nerve injuries and help you take back your life.

Causes

Many spinal nerve injuries are caused by the gradual deterioration of the spinal vertebrae and intervertebral discs. As these components of the spine break down, they may intrude on the space occupied by the spinal cord, pinching it or squeezing one of the spinal nerve branches. When this occurs, the nerves may stop transmitting signals to the brain and the nerves may malfunction, causing numbness or weak muscle signaling or changes in strength. The signal interference from a fractured spinal vertebra or herniated disc can also cause pain. Conditions such as sciatica and foot drop are typically related to these types of circumstances. Tumors, infections, and certain neurological diseases can also cause spinal nerve damage over time.

While many cases of spinal nerve damage are caused by nontraumatic changes in the body, a significant number of spinal nerve injuries occur each year due to traumatic blows to the spine that fracture, dislocate, crush, or compress one or more of the vertebrae, potentially severing the spinal cord. The physical manifestation of these types of injuries will depend on the location of the spinal nerve injury and whether the break involves an incomplete or complete severing of the spinal cord.

The most common causes of spinal cord injuries in the United States are motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries, and diseases. To significantly reduce one’s risk of severe spinal cord injuries, the best medical advice we can provide is to always buckle your seat belt, wear a bicycle helmet, don’t dive in shallow water, and use proper safety equipment when playing contact sports.

Symptoms

Spinal cord injuries of any kind may result in one or more of the following:

  • Temporary or permanent loss of movement or muscle strength
  • The inability to feel heat, cold, or touch
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Spasms
  • Changes in sexual function
  • Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the nerve fibers in your spinal cord
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing, or clearing secretions from your lungs

Certain spinal cord injuries (especially after an accident) require immediate medical attention, particularly when the following symptoms are present:

  • Extreme back pain or pressure in your neck, head, or back
  • Weakness or paralysis in any part of your body
  • Numbness, tingling, and/or loss of sensation in your hands or feet
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Difficulty with balance and walking
  • Impaired breathing after injury
  • An oddly positioned or twisted neck or back

Diagnostic Measures

When you seek medical attention at Spine Center of North Texas, Dr. Carll may be able to rule out a spinal cord injury with simple inspection and examination. But if you or the patient is in serious pain, not fully conscious, or has obvious signs of serious injury, emergency diagnostic testing will be performed at the nearest hospital. These tests may include:

  • X-rays – These scans can offer Dr. Carll deep insight, revealing vertebral problems, tumors, fractures, and degenerative changes in your spine.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) – CT scans provide a comprehensive analysis of abnormalities discovered by x-rays, creating a series of detailed images of your bones and discs, as well as spinal conditions.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce an image that is very helpful for assessing the spinal cord and identifying herniated discs, blood clots, and masses near the spine.

Treatment Options

Urgent medical care is critical to minimizing the extent of damage to your spine following a spinal nerve injury. Treatment begins at the scene of the accident with necessary immobilization in a gentle but fast manner. Following immobilization and diagnosis, a treatment plan can be created for you. Early stages of treatment may include intubation and continued immobilization. Next, Dr. Carll will decide whether surgery will be necessary to stabilize your spine. Surgery is often utilized to remove bone fragments, foreign objects, herniated discs, and fractured vertebra. It is also performed to stabilize the spine, preventing future damage and/or pain.

Hope and Healing

A spinal cord injury can affect every area of your life, but medical breakthroughs are occurring every day to give hope to people who have suffered serious spinal injuries. For spinal nerve injuries that cause pain, numbness, and discomfort, Dr. Carll and his medical team offer support and advanced medical care to help alleviate the physical effects of this damage, sometimes without surgery. If you or a loved one have experienced spinal nerve damage, Spine Center of North Texas may have the answers. Call one of our offices today to schedule an appointment.    

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.