and neck injuries are of great importance, because of potential
nerve damage. The spinal cord comprises the descending nerve tracts
of the brain and provides nerve impulses to the body. It is positioned
behind the spine. Spine injuries typically result in disc bulge
or disc herniation. They may cause nerve or spinal cord compression,
become chronic and result in permanent disabilities.
Most spine injuries and problems occur either in the neck or lower back area. The disc provides weight bearing and functions as a hydraulic shock absorber, due to its elastic and resilient properties. Healthy disc requires adequate hydration. If it is poorly hydrated, the disc cannot resist to compression and may rupture.
As a result of disc rupture or herniation the disc discharges its gelatinous pulp and “deflates.” The herniated disc material protrudes backwards and impinges upon and damages either the spinal cord, the nerve root or both behind it. The conditions are called spinal cord compression or radiculopathy, respectively. A pinched spinal nerve results in inflammation and frequently, severe and unbearable pain. Additional symptoms may be numbness or tingling and muscle weakness, causing varying degrees of functional losses.
Lower back and neck pain syndromes respond well to conservative treatment. Treatment consists of physical therapy, pain relievers, exercises and life style adjustment, utilizing appropriate body mechanics. Occasionally, back or neck surgery may become necessary. It is highly recommended, that people with lower back or neck injury undergo immediate medical evaluation and treatment.
Conditions with sudden onset of lower back pain localized to one side only and radiating down the buttock and back of the thigh and calf typically result from nerve root compression, commonly called sciatica. The pain is sharp and aggravated by movements and certain body positions. Numbness, burning and tingling in the leg are also common.
The condition should be promptly diagnosed ad treated. It may respond favorably to proper treatment regimen, that is medications and physical therapy and typically resolves within 6-8 weeks. If sciatica is caused by a herniated lumbar disc surgery may be necessary.
Rarely a herniated disk may press on the nerves that cause one to lose control of the bladder or bowel. Numbness or tingling in the groin or genital area are typical for what is called the cauda equina syndrome. This is an emergency situation requiring immediate surgery.
For more information or for an evaluation please call
New York Midtown Orthopedics at 212-758-4688.
Remember: timely diagnosis and treatment may prevent chronic pain, surgery and permanent disability.