Spinal Cord and Nerve Compression
Spinal cord and nerve compression is a medical condition in which the spinal cord or nerves that exit the spinal cord become compressed or pinched, leading to a range of symptoms. This compression can be caused by a variety of factors, including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, bone spurs, tumors, and spinal cord injuries. The compression can lead to pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling in the affected areas of the body. The severity of the symptoms depends on the location and severity of the compression. Severe cases of the spinal cord and nerve compression can lead to permanent nerve damage and paralysis.
Causes of Spinal Cord and Nerve Compression
Spinal cord and nerve compression can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Herniated or bulging discs: Discs are the cushions between the vertebrae in the spine. When a disc herniates or bulges, it can press on the spinal cord or nerves.
Spinal stenosis: This is a narrowing of the spinal canal, which can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
Osteoarthritis: This is a degenerative joint disease that can cause the growth of bone spurs, which can also press on the spinal cord or nerves.
Trauma or injury to the spine: This can cause fractures or dislocations in the vertebrae, leading to compression of the spinal cord or nerves.
Tumors: Both benign and malignant tumors can grow in the spine and put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
Infections or inflammation: Infections and inflammation in the spine can cause swelling and put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
Degenerative disc disease: This is a condition where the discs in the spine lose their cushioning and elasticity over time, which can lead to compression of the spinal cord or nerves.
It’s important to determine the underlying cause of spinal cord and nerve compression in order to effectively treat the condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Cord and Nerve Compression
Spinal cord and nerve compression occurs when there is pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. The symptoms of spinal cord and nerve compression depend on the location of the compression and the severity of the condition. Here are some common signs and symptoms:
- Pain: The pain may be localized at the site of the compression or it may radiate to other parts of the body.
- Numbness or tingling: Compression of the nerve can cause numbness, tingling or a pins-and-needles sensation in the affected area.
- Muscle weakness: As the compression worsens, it can lead to muscle weakness, making it difficult to perform tasks that require strength.
- Loss of sensation: You may experience loss of sensation, which means that you may not be able to feel heat, cold or touch in the affected area.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control: In severe cases, spinal cord compression can affect the nerves that control bladder and bowel function, leading to incontinence.
- Difficulty walking: Severe spinal cord compression can make it difficult to walk, causing a stumbling or unsteady gait.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention right away, as spinal cord and nerve compression can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
Treatment for Spinal Cord and Nerve Compression
Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession that aims to promote, restore, and maintain physical function, mobility, and quality of life. The treatment plan for physiotherapy varies depending on the specific condition, but generally involves the following steps:
Assessment: The physiotherapist will evaluate the patient’s condition, medical history, and physical abilities to develop an individualized treatment plan.
Goal setting: The physiotherapist will work with the patient to establish realistic goals and expectations for the treatment.
Treatment planning: The physiotherapist will design a comprehensive plan that may include a range of interventions, such as exercise therapy, manual therapy, education, and modalities.
Implementation: The physiotherapist will implement the treatment plan, which may include providing specific exercises to improve mobility, strength, and balance, as well as manual therapy to improve joint and soft tissue mobility.
Progress monitoring: The physiotherapist will monitor the patient’s progress throughout the treatment and make any necessary modifications to the treatment plan.
Education: The physiotherapist will educate the patient on how to manage their condition, prevent further injury, and promote optimal physical function.
Physiotherapy can be effective in treating a wide range of conditions, including musculoskeletal injuries, neurological disorders, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, and chronic pain. The goal of physiotherapy is to help patients achieve their full physical potential and improve their overall quality of life.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about spinal cord and nerve compression please call us at 03 9836 1126.
Gordon, K. E., Waldron, M., Grewal, R., & Sawatzky, B. J. (2020). Physiotherapy management of individuals with spinal cord compression due to metastatic cancer: A scoping review. Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences