Any part of the spine can be injured. Attention is usually focused on a fractured part of the vertebra when we investigate trauma to the spine. All the soft tissues connecting the spine and surrounding it act as excellent buffers to loads subjected to the spine. It is only when the soft tissues could not sustain abnormal forces that it transfers residual forces to break the bony architecture of the spine.
The intervertebral disc has been found to be the strongest part of the spine. Biomechanical tests have shown that the bony architecture breaks before the integrity of the disc fails. But this usually happens when the rest of the ligaments and muscles of the spine has already failed in absorbing or dissipating loads to the spine.
Traumatic injuries to the spine will present the following signs and symptoms:
Pain - because of the inflammation of
injured muscles, ligaments and
fracture to the vertebra. Pain can
also be due to compression of the
spinal cord or nerve roots. Pain is
usually felt immediatedly and
sometimes persists for a long time
after the injury. Chronic pain is
usually a symptom of instability-
which is a sequela of poor natural
body healing or inadequate care.
Deformity - acute deformity can occur with
the disruption of the architecture
of the spine. Deformity of the
spine should be given proper
attention since it will lead to
instability and chronic pain.
Weakness - weakness after a spine injury can
be due to severe pain usually felt
after a spine trauma. It can also
be a cause of compression of the
spinal cord or the nerve roots.
Paralysis - is the worst sign of injury to the
spine. It usually indicates that the
spinal cord was injured due to
direct or indirect causes. Direct
injury is usually due to a fractured
part of the bone compressing on
the cord, over-stretching of the
cord and nerves, or disruption of
blood supply to the spinal cord.
Trauma to the spine needs immediate attention. Your spine specialists would normally order one or combination of all these labs to fully evaluate your spine and offer the best management.
- CT Scans
Copyright UPMC Spine Specialists (2012) Manila, Philippines
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