Problems with the spinal cord can greatly affect the functioning and feeling in other parts of your body. The spinal cord is an aggregate of nerves that goes down the back following the spine. Along the back, the spinal cord is protected by the vertebral columns, which keep you upright. The gaps in the vertebrae allow the spinal cord to pass through and connect the brain to the muscles and tissue throughout the body, including the back and neck.
If you experience spinal cord compression, you may experience the symptoms in various parts of the body, including the feet, legs, arms, back, or neck. Luckily, spinal cord compression is treatable, and your chiropractor can help you through the treatment process. Below, we go over important information about spinal cord compression, and what specifically the symptoms are.
Cervical Spondylotic Myelopath
Spinal cord compression, also known as cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM), is a condition caused by pressure placed onto the spinal cord. Usually, added pressure is a result of the wear that people put on their spine as they age, and can also occur sooner for people born with narrow spinal canals.
Spinal cord compression can be found anywhere along the spine from the neck (cervical spine) to the torso (thoracic spine). Common primary symptoms of spinal cord compression include weakness, pain, and numbness. These symptoms can come on gradually over time or suddenly depending on what caused the condition. Furthermore, depending on the condition of the spinal cord compression, treatment can range from supportive therapy to surgery.
Severe cases of spinal cord compression can result in myelopathy. Myelopathy can result in more complicated problems, like trouble walking and increased pain and numbness. If you think you may be experiencing spinal cord compression, you should see a health care professional immediately.
What are the causes of spinal cord compression?
Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of spinal cord compression. Osteoarthritis comes about due to wear on the bones of the spine over time. Therefore, it is usually experienced by people over the age of 40.
Other causes of spinal cord compression can occur at any age. They include the following:
Narrow spinal gaps
Scoliosis - abnormal spine alignment
Tumors on the spine
Bone diseases that affect the spine
What are the symptoms of spinal cord compression?
As mentioned earlier, symptoms of spinal cord compression can come on gradually or suddenly depending on the cause of CSM. For example, if spinal cord compression is a result of an injury to the spine, the symptoms will likely be immediate.
If infections or tumors on the spine are the cause, then symptoms may develop over days or weeks. However, if osteoarthritis is the culprit, then the symptoms may develop over many years.
Symptoms of spinal cord compression include the following:
Problems with balance or other coordination issues. For example, trouble walking or falling down. Myelopathy may cause your body to feel unable to follow through with walking, your eyes and head may feel steady but the rest of your body may feel difficult to control.
Problems with fine motor skills. People affected by spinal cord compression may find tasks like handwriting, picking up coins, buttoning clothes, and other tasks that require fine motor skills difficult.
Pain or stiffness in the upper back, neck, or lower back
Weakness, numbness, tingling, or cramping in the hands, fingers, arms, or legs
Burning pain in the arms, legs (sciatica), and butt
Weakness or loss of feeling in the feet that results in a limp
Loss of ability to feel heat or cold
Cauda equina syndrome is a more serious condition that is caused by pressure on the nerves in the lower back (lumbar area). If you have any of the following symptoms, you should immediately seek emergency care:
Loss of bladder control or bowel control
Severe weakness and pain in the legs, making it difficult to walk or stand up
Severe or increasing numbness in the legs, back of legs, or inner thighs
What are the treatments for spinal cord compression?
If you are not experiencing the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome, it doesn’t mean you can forego medical attention. There are many treatments for spinal cord compression, and the less severe cases do not require surgery or emergency care.
Spinal decompression therapy
Spinal decompression therapy is an effective and advanced spinal treatment therapy used to manage pain due to spinal cord compression. Spinal decompression therapy stretches the spinal column in order to relieve pain and pressure in the spine. This can relieve neck, back, leg, and arm pain caused by spinal cord compression. Along with pain reduction, spinal decompression therapy may help people regain mobility and nerve function in the areas affected by CSM.
Upper cervical chiropractic
Upper cervical chiropractic is a viable treatment option for people experiencing cervical myelopathy, especially those with symptoms around their neck. Upper cervical chiropractic is a technique that uses small movements around the upper spine to adjust the position of a misaligned spine. This technique can greatly improve spine health and leave people with reduced pain, more mobility, and better overall functioning. Because this area is beside the brain stem, compression and misalignment can put added pressure on the brain stem. This may cause poor functioning in the connection between the brain and the rest of the body.
A neck adjustment is another good treatment option for people experiencing cervical myelopathy. Neck adjustments realign the top two bones in the spine along the neck. Readjusting the position of these bones can cause a chain reaction and better help the rest of the spine realign.
If surgery is required our chiropractors will refer you to a recommended specialist and consult with them for optimal recovery, if it’s not needed then you will receive the necessary treatment from your chiropractor.
Spinal Cord Compression Treatment at Accident Care Chiropractic
If you experience any of the symptoms of spinal cord compression, seek diagnosis and treatment from a trained chiropractor, like one of our many experienced doctors at Accident Care Chiropractic. In our practice, we can offer you treatment that will increase your mobility, nerve function, and reduce your pain.
We specialize in accident-related chiropractic treatments. Many people who have been in an accident don’t realize they need chiropractic care because symptoms may not occur right away or they do have symptoms and they think they will go away with time. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are treatment options for spinal cord injury resulting in spinal cord compression.
Expert Therapy & Treatment for Your Spinal Cord Compression Pain
Getting chiropractic care after a car accident is a good idea to get a diagnosis and begin a treatment plan to stop any problems before they become even worse. So if you’ve been in a car accident, even if you don’t feel injured, it’s a good idea to speak with a car accident chiropractor right away. Don’t Delay!