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Spinal Cord Compression Treatment Guidelines

March 29, 2022

Spinal Cord Compression Treatment Guidelines: What You Should Know!

What is a Spinal Cord Compression?

Spinal cord compression (SC Comp) is a medical condition that occurs when the spinal cord is compressed, causing pain and disability. There are many causes of SC Comp, but few effective treatments. In patients with SC Comp, there is no way to “cure’ the compression, nor is there any way to relieve the pain. Instead, the goal of treatment is to relieve the symptoms and prevent further compression.

Spinal cord compression can be mild, moderate, or severe. Many patients with SC Comp experience just one of these levels of compression, while others may experience each of them. Your doctor will be able to determine which level of compression you have based on your symptoms and the imaging tests they perform.

SC comp is a medical condition that affects the back and neck. It occurs when the vertebrae are not in the right position. In such a case, the spinal cord is compressed. This can be caused in two scenarios:

  • In stroke patients: It occurs when the vertebrae are in a tight position and as a result, the spinal cord is compressed.
  • In other medical conditions: It occurs when the vertebrae are not in the right position and as a result, the spinal cord is compressed. It is a congenital condition, congenital in the sense that it is present at the time of birth.

Some patients may not experience any symptoms of spinal cord compression and may only visit the doctor for routine checkups or if they have experienced other associated bodily trauma. Usually, doctors will be able to diagnose an SC comp through examination of the patient's medical history and physical state. There are also diagnostic investigations available that can be used to confirm a diagnosis of a spinal cord compression injury.

Acute spinal cord compression is a sudden and severe onset of symptoms that are caused by pressure on the spinal cord. The condition can be brought on by any event or trauma that leads to an injury to the spinal cord, such as a car accident, fall, or sports injury. Acute SCI is considered an emergency and should be treated accordingly. There are two types of acute SCI: traumatic and nontraumatic.

  • Nontraumatic: These injuries are usually caused by a herniated disk or benign tumor in the spine. This type of SCI can be fixed with surgery, medication, or physical therapy.
  • Traumatic: These injuries occur when there is damage to the spinal cord due to trauma. Treatment options vary depending on the severity and extent of the injury.

If you think you may have sustained a spinal cord compression injury, you must see your doctor as soon as possible. Your physician will then determine what course of action and treatment plan should be taken to best treat your condition.

Conditions Caused by Spinal Cord Compression

Malignant Spinal Cord Compression

In Malignant Spinal Cord Compression, the spinal cord has been damaged due to a tumor that has spread to the spinal cord. This type of compression may occur at any level of the spine. Unlike metastatic SC Comp, cancer is not the cause.

Malignant SC Comp is most often seen with cancer that is in the abdomen, liver, lungs, or skin. It is also common in people who have lung cancer, breast cancer, multiple myeloma, and prostate cancer. The causes of malignant SC Comp include trauma to the spine, that slices the spinal cord, or cancer that grows slowly and causes damage to the spinal cord. In patients with malignant SC Comp, palliative radiotherapy is used to treat cancer. This treatment is used to relieve the spinal pain, but usually does not cure cancer or prevent reoccurrence.

Metastatic Spinal Cord Compression

This is the most common type of SC Comp. In patients with Metastatic Spinal Cord Compression. The spinal cord has been compressed from cancer that has spread to the whole spine and another part of the body. This can occur from cancer that has spread from the abdomen, liver, lungs, or skin. SC Comp may also occur from metastatic spinal cord tumors that are not cancerous. The causes of Metastatic Spinal Cord Compression include cancer that grows rapidly and causes compression, or cancer that grows slowly and causes damage to the spinal cord.

Epidural Spinal Cord Compression

Epidural SC Comp is caused by pressure on the spine. This can be caused by tumors, infections, injuries, or fractures. It can also be caused by strokes that affect the brain areas that control breathing and the spine. Epidural SC comp can cause a complete or partial loss of motor function and sensation below the affected spine. Epidural SC comp can be treated with epidural decompression surgery.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

SC comp can cause cauda equina syndrome, which needs emergency medical treatment. This is a condition that occurs when the spinal canal is damaged at the lower end of the spinal column, called the “cauda equina.” In this condition, the lower half of the body is completely paralyzed; the individual cannot walk or stand. Patients with this condition are also at risk of additional nerve damage to the bladder, and sometimes the rectum, resulting in incontinence and other complications of SC Comp.

Cauda equina syndrome is typically caused by damage to the spine in the lower back from trauma, surgery, or spinal stenosis. Magnetic resonance imaging tests may be able to detect damage in the cauda equina, but patients with preexisting spinal stenosis and idiopathic SC Comp may not show any signs of nerve damage on imaging. Cauda equina syndrome can also occur in isolation from SC Comp, causing a completely different condition.

Conditions That may Result in Spinal Cord Compression

Spinal cord compression is usually the result of a spinal injury, but certain medical conditions may result in spinal cord compression.

Physical injuries are the most common cause of spinal cord compression and include:

  • traumatic brain injury
  • stroke
  • cervical spondylosis
  • acute vertebral body fracture
  • pancreatitis with pseudocyst formation
  • thoracic cancer surgery with possible postoperative herniation

Medical conditions that may lead to spinal cord compression include:

  • syringomyelia
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • cerebrovascular accident (CVA) - also known as stroke or brain attack
  • spinal tumors including tumor metastasis containing malignant cells.
  • Spinal Metastases

Causes of Spinal Cord Compression

Spinal Cord Compression occurs when nerve roots become compressed by tumors, infections, injuries, or tumors in the bones.

Most cases of SC comp occur in the thoracic, lumbar, or cervical regions of the spine. People are more likely to develop spinal cord disorders if they have had other disorders such as a herniated disc, or a history of cancer in the spine or abdomen. Additionally, people who are obese or have other metabolic disorders may be at increased risk.

Prostate Cancer - The prostate is one of the male reproductive organs. In men, prostate cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. It can spread to other parts of the body too.

This is when the cancerous cells in the prostate spread by traveling through the nerves. This condition can result in the spinal cord being compressed. This happens due to the formation of a tumor in the spine.

Lung cancer may affect the spine, causing spinal cord compression. Lung cancer is the most common cause of spinal cord compression.

The spinal cord can get damaged by pressure from cancer spread to bones or other parts of the body. There is no specific treatment for spinal cord compression caused by lung cancer.

Compression of the spinal cord can be caused by bone metastases as well. Bone metastases are a condition in which cancer cells spread to the bones and start accumulating and forming new growths. These growths put pressure on the spine and can cause the spinal cord to compress. The symptoms that result from this type of compression are similar to those that occur with degenerative disc disease, but they are usually more severe. For example, people with bone metastases may experience severe pain in their back and legs or numbness down their legs.

Diagnosis of Spinal Cord Compression

Health professionals will conduct many tests to find the exact cause of SC comp. Imaging tests such as an MRI scan, CT scan, and X-ray of your neck and back are done to know the exact cause of the condition.

The doctor will also check your general health history. Along with this, they will ask you about any pain or stiffness you have in your back or neck. If these symptoms are noted, it can be a sign of spinal cord compression. If the compression is mild, however, these tests will not be able to diagnose the compression. In these cases, your doctor may order a nerve conduction velocity test, which is an electrodiagnostic test used to determine the level of SC Comp you have.

The clinical practice of how to treat spinal cord compression varies based on the severity of the symptoms. Doctors may prescribe bed rest or a brace for mild cases, whereas surgery and hospitalization are sometimes recommended for more severe cases.

There are a few things you can do if you've been diagnosed with spinal cord compression. The first thing is to follow your doctor's orders as closely as possible. The second is to avoid any activities that might put pressure on the spine including lifting heavy objects, bending over, or sitting in an awkward position for a long period. Lastly, ask your doctor about physical exercises to help improve circulation and reduce the swelling around the spinal cord.

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Compression

The following symptoms of spinal cord compression depend on its cause and the severity of the condition.

However, most spinal cord injuries cause symptoms like:

  • Paralysis
  • bladder and bowel dysfunction
  • limb weakness
  • lower back (lumbar spine) pain
  • loss of sensation
  • Radicular pain
  • muscle weakness and spasms.

People with SC Com might also experience urinary retention, constipation, anal spasms, urinary hesitancy, and sexual problems. Other neurological symptoms and neurological signs might include weakness or paralysis of the legs, sensory loss, sensory changes, difficulty walking, and difficulty walking up stairs.

Treatment for Spinal Cord Compression

The treatment for spinal cord compression is not the same for everyone. It depends on the individual, the level of compression, and how long it has been occurring. For example, some people may respond to a few weeks of physical therapy while others will need surgery to correct their condition. The definitive treatment for spinal cord compression is to treat the underlying cause of the problem.

While many people agree that spinal cord compression is a serious medical condition, there are many treatments available that can help you recover from this condition. Early detection and treatment of spinal cord compression are essential. If the spinal cord compression is caught early, the symptoms can be treated with medication and physical therapy. If treatment doesn’t occur, it may lead to permanent paralysis. It is generally recommended to seek medical attention as soon as possible when experiencing spinal cord compression. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the compression of the spinal cord. The only treatment option currently exists is to relieve pressure and reduce pain in the spine and allow it time to heal. There are several ways to do it. Some other treatments are-

Surgery: In some cases, surgery is performed to remove the bone that is causing the pressure on the spinal cord. Surgery is recommended for people with severe symptoms, especially if a secondary condition such as motor neuron disease is suspected. During surgery, a team of doctors and surgeons will remove the damaged bones, tendons, or ligaments that are responsible for compressing the spinal cord. This can calm down any pain and improve the function of the spinal cord.

This surgery is relatively safe but can cause some complications like infection or nerve damage. These complications can cause further symptoms of spinal cord compression, so it’s important to be monitored closely after surgery.

Medication: Some medicines that are effective in treating blood pressure are also used to treat SC Comp. They help to reduce blood pressure in the arteries. While there aren’t many medications that treat it, there are some that can help relieve the symptoms. Medications are typically prescribed to treat the symptoms that occur due to SC comp.

For example, antidepressants can improve mood, muscle relaxants can help relieve pain and anti-seizure medications can treat any nerve pain. It’s important to let your doctor know if you take any medication, as some drugs can increase the risk of SC comp.

Yoga/Massage Therapy: Spinal decompression therapy is an effective way of restoring your cervical spine. It is performed by a physical therapist. Massage therapy is a great way to help people with SC comp. Using massage to relieve pain, improve mood and promote relaxation can help relieve the symptoms of SC comp.

You can visit a professional massage therapist or just use self-massage with oils or other creams.

Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic care is often recommended for people with central cord syndrome to improve the function of the spinal cord. Chiropractic treatments stimulate the nervous system which can help relieve symptoms of SC comp such as pain and numbness.

There are a variety of chiropractic services that can help treat spinal compression and reduce swelling and pain, including spinal adjustments and manual therapy. Spinal adjustments often help relax tense muscles and relieve pain, while manual therapies use soft hands to apply pressure to specific areas of the spine.

Omega-3 fish oils are one of the most popular treatments for spinal cord damage. Fish oils can reduce inflammation in the body. They can also reduce the risk of complications like spinal cord injury, which can also reduce the symptoms of central cord syndrome.

To take fish oils, take 2-3 grams of liquid three times a day, or consume two to three grams of fish oil-based supplements each day.

Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a form of therapy that is performed by a therapist. It involves giving you software or equipment to measure your body movements. It is then used to improve the spinal cord function.

Radiation therapy is the most effective treatment for spinal cord compression. It can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including spinal cord compression. Radiation therapy is given by inserting a small device called a brachytherapy device into the spine.

Prognosis of Spinal Cord Compression

The prognosis for people with spinal cord compression depends on the cause of the compression. A malignant tumor can cause serious spinal cord compression. If the spinal cord is removed to treat the tumor, the person can have significant muscle weakness on both sides of the body. A traumatic spinal cord injury can also cause paralysis. It is not certain how long paralysis will last. The prognosis for people with traumatic spinal cord injury depends on many factors. These factors include the extent of the injury, the age of the person, the person’s ability to recover from the injury, and the person’s health before the injury. Generally, recovery is expected to take one to two years.

Final Words

If you or someone you love has suffered from spinal cord compression, you might be interested to learn about the treatments available. SC comp treatment will depend on the severity of the spinal cord compression and the cause of the compression. There are many types of spinal cord compression, so treatment will also depend on the type of compression.

Prevention is the best way to avoid spinal cord compression. Wear a seatbelt when you drive, and a helmet when you ride a bike. These are two of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries. If you or someone you love is injured, call 911 so they can get the proper medical help.

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