Injuries to the spine are amongst some of the most devastating and debilitating. There are two types of spinal injury, those that are complete and those that are incomplete. Complete injuries refer to a complete loss of physiological function below the site of the injury, whereas an incomplete spinal injury refers to one in which some or most physiological function is retained below the injury site. Unfortunately, there is a lot more to an injury affecting the spine than just how to relieve back pain and manage loss of use and sensation symptoms. The majority of the time, there is no way to undo damage that has been done to the spine following an injury (exceptions include those caused by abscess, tumor or similar where removal may alleviate the problem if detected before permanent damage is done).
Treatment for a spinal injury involves numerous components including surgery if applicable, chronic pain management, physical therapy and also support services like occupational and transitional therapy as well. Incomplete injuries are typically easier to treat than complete injuries, and whether or not treatment options are available to address the physiological cause of the problem, there are ways to help move recovery along at a more rapid pace and pain management techniques to employ to make the healing process more manageable. Ten of them follow below, and while perhaps not applicable in all situations, these tips may be valuable to people suffering from a spinal injury whether caused from abscess, sudden trauma such as a car accident or as a result of common sports injuries.
- Immediate Treatment is Imperative: Most people are fully aware that they have or may have a spinal injury at the time the injury has occurred. But, this is not always the case. Unfortunately, a delay in treatment can greatly increase the likelihood of permanent damage to the spinal cord which can lead to permanent and irreversible loss in physiological function. Immediate care may not always prevent irreversible damage, but the chances are greater when medical attention is promptly received. Injuries to the head, neck and back should be evaluated at once for this reason.
- Follow Advice: A spinal injury can have significant impact on quality of life. Day to day activities can become more challenging or downright impossible. For some people, this drastic change can be disheartening and can lead them to not want to continue seeking help. However, not only will skipping professional advice lead to longer recovery times, it can also limit physical and emotional abilities down the line.
- Consider New Devices: A big part of recovery from a spinal injury is getting back into regular and routine habit. Unfortunately, damage to the spine can make this challenging. Newer technology has allowed for the implementation of a variety of devices that can help speed the transition. Electrical stimulation devices for instance, can help facilitate movements in legs and arms. Additionally, far more advanced wheelchairs that are lighter and more comfortable are able to help people recovering or those who are permanently disabled enjoy greater mobility. These devices aren’t just useful for convenience’s sake – their use can actually help hasten recovery time by allowing for greater mobility and therapy resources to be used.
- Experimental Technology is Available: Aside from new spins on old devices, tools that seem like they straight from a sci fi movie are also becoming more readily available that can significantly impact recovery in a positive way. Robotic gait training, remote and voice controlled convenience devices and computer modifications can all change the way people with a spinal injury live, and how and how rapidly they recover to their maximum potential.
- Experimental Treatments are Available: There may still be decades between now and when modern medicine finds a way to repair the damage caused from a spinal injury. However, experimental treatments are providing hope in the form of inflammation reduction, the regeneration of nerves and slowing cellular death. In some individuals, preliminary use of experimental treatments may help to provide some physiological improvement and speed recovery.
- Alternative Treatments are Available: Traditionally, medications and various types of therapy are used in order to treat people with a spinal injury. However, there are alternative types of treatment that might also be useful in some individuals. For instance, whole body cryotherapy in physiotherapy is becoming increasingly popular. Professional athletes and celebrities like Tony Robbins as evidenced in a recent podcast use the cold therapy for inflammation reduction and performance recovery. But, cryotherapy results may have another use as well and that is in injury repair. It’s thought that supercooling the body’s exterior may prompt cell repairing healing processes through chemical reactions in the body.
- Immobilization is Important: In most cases of injury, immobilization is important. But, this can be even more so true when an injury is impacting the spine. This is because the spine may need to regain proper alignment, which is helped by immobilization.
- Risk of Reinjury is Great: Unfortunately, the initial injury to the spine may be only half the battle for some people as there is great risk for further damage or re-injury to people who have experienced a spinal injury. This risk can be lessened by following the advice of a doctor in terms of care, treatment and rehabilitation. Further injury can greatly increase recovery time in affected individuals.
- Medications can Help: An interesting supporting fact to the need for immediate medical attention; if certain medications are administered within eight hours following some types of spinal injuries, measurable improvement is possible in some people because the damage to nerve cells can be reduced. This can have a significant impact on recovery time in many cases.
- Surgery may be Required: Spinal surgery can sound like one of the scariest medical procedures on the planet. After all, one wrong move and permanent disability could be imminent. However, surgery is unfortunately rather common in the case of injuries to the spine because often debris like bone fragments, fractured vertebrae or herniated disks are the source of the problem and compression. Without prompt removal, a potentially treatable spinal injury can result in lifelong pain, deformity and disability.