A spinal cord injury refers to any injury which may affect the spine and lead to changes in the proper functioning of the body as a result of damage to the nerves of the spinal canal or spinal cord.
Depending on how severe a spinal injury is and the location where it occurs, the ability of different patients to control parts of the body will vary.
The term “completeness” is used to identify the degree of a spinal injury. The neurological level of injury is the lowest point of the spinal cord which still performs properly after being afflicted by an injury.
The different classifications of spinal injury include:
- Complete injury: In this classification, the ability to move and also some or all of the sense of feeling below the location of the damage is lost.
- Incomplete injury: In this classification, the patient may retain some of the functions of movement and sense of feeling below the point where the injury occurs. Degree of feeling will vary in patients.
If the body is paralyzed after a spinal injury, it may be classified as one of two classes:
- Tetraplegia in which the paralysis extends to your hands, legs, trunk, arms and pelvic organs (also called quadriplegia)
- Paraplegia in which the legs, trunk, and pelvic organs are partly or wholly affected by paralysis.
Some of the common symptoms of spinal cord injuries are the inability to move, inability to control bladder functions, pain, loss of feeling, breathing problems, and spasms.
Spinal decompression involves the extraction of bone spurs, soft tissues or part or all of the lamina. This is done to create extra space for the nerve roots. This surgery is done through the back of the body by performing an incision. It may be done at any point on the spine between the neck and the lower back. The lamina provides a cover for the spinal cord and also forms the posterior of the spinal canal.
A spinal decompression may be a single-level or a multilevel surgery. The various decompression surgery available include:
- Laminectomy: this surgery helps to enlarge the spinal canal and create room by removing the lamina.
- Laminotomy: this involves removing just a part of the lamina. It can be a portion on one side of the lamina. To maintain the stability of the spine after the operation, the support of the lamina is not removed during surgery.
- Foraminotomy: this surgery may be done along with a laminectomy or laminotomy. It is applied in a situation where a pinched nerve is formed as an after effect of a degenerative disc. It involves extracting a bone at the point where the nerve root leaves the spinal canal.
- Laminaplasty: this surgery is performed only in the neck area of the body. By splitting laminae and spreading one part of it wide, it leads to enlargement of the spinal canal.
A spinal fusion may be necessary after surgery. This is to ensure that the areas which have gone through surgery maintain stability. By combining instrumentation and bone graft, fusion is achieved.
A spinal stabilization is performed to ensure the stability of the spine after surgery or to restore stability in other patients. By performing a bone graft along with instrumentation, it is possible to obtain spinal stabilization. A laminectomy is a common operation which often requires a spinal stabilization after it is performed. When re-aligning the spine through fusion and instrumentation, a bone graft is used to help assist in the bone fusion. Instrumentation is used to provide supports using implants such as plastic, rods, or screws.