Having children and starting a family is still possible after spinal cord injury. It is also possible that some women may stop menstruating in the months following spinal cord injury, which is the body’s natural response to major trauma. Ensure that you practice good hygiene with period products after spinal cord injury by changing tampons or pads regularly. This can prevent skin damage from sitting in damp clothes.
Remember that spinal cord injury does not affect fertility. Ensure that you continue to practice safe sex, and discuss contraception options with your GP if you are not planning a pregnancy.Show Less
Absolutely. Depending on the spinal cord injury, the way you have sex may change, but that doesn’t mean sex is impossible. For men, sexual function can be aided by medication that's approved to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), and non-invasive methods like vacuum erection devices.
For women, you may experience changes in sensation and changes in your ability to lubricate, so a special lubricant can be used.Show Less
A spinal cord injury includes damage to any part of the spinal cord or the nerves running down the length of the spinal canal.
Spinal cord injuries are serious because the brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS). This complex system coordinates movement and sensation throughout the body, and damage or destruction of this system prohibits the brain and body from communicating effectively below the level of injury.Show Less
Many spinal cord injuries result from incidents involving drunk driving, assaults, and alcohol or drug abuse. Spinal cord injuries from industrial hazards, such as equipment failures or inadequate safety precautions, are potentially preventable causes. Shallow or empty swimming pools are known hazards too.Show Less
Car crashes are the leading causes of spinal cord injury in the U.S. and account for 35 percent of new spinal cord injuries each year. In medical circles, it is considered prudent to assume a car crash victim who experienced extreme trauma to his or her head is likely to have a spinal cord injury until proven otherwise.
While a popular cause of injury, car crashes aren’t the only way people sustain a spinal cord injury. For example, any bleeding, swelling, inflammation, or fluid collection in or around the spinal cord can cause injury. Arthritis, cancer, and bone degeneration are all potential causes of spinal cord injury. Additionally, a gunshot, stab, or fall could also damage the spinal cord.Show Less
Spinal cord injuries can be elusive. In some cases, the signs and symptoms will be apparent immediately following a car crash or accident. However, this isn’t always the case.
Spinal cord injuries can be observed days or weeks after an incident. However, the period immediately following an incident is the most critical, and therefore, anyone suspected of having such an injury should be seen by a medical professional as soon as possible.Show Less
Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries don’t discriminate—nearly anyone can become a victim. There are, however, some risk factors that put individuals at greater risk or disadvantage.
Men, for example, account for 80 percent of all spinal cord injury victims; and victims are statistically between the ages of 16 and 35; however, people over 65-years-old are most at risk for falls and related spinal cord injuries.
Participating in risky behaviors like reckless driving or neglecting to wear proper safety gear while playing sports can also put individuals at a higher risk of injury. People with degenerative bone or joint disorders like arthritis or osteoporosis have an increased risk of spinal cord injury.Show Less
Patients with cervical stenosis usually present with cervical radiculopathy, with or without myelopathy. Typically, the condition involves the lower cervical spine. Patients frequently complain of radiating arm pain with numbness and paresthesia in the involved dermatomes. Occasionally, associated weakness occurs in the muscles supplied by that nerve root. If the stenosis is severe enough, or if it is positioned centrally in the spine, patients may present with signs and symptoms of myelopathy (spinal cord dysfunction). Typically, these patients complain of finger numbness, clumsiness, and difficulty walking due to spasticity and loss of position sense. In more severe cases, the patients can have bowel and bladder control dysfunction. Upon examination, these patients have "long-tract signs" such as hyperreflexia, positive Hoffman sign, positive Babinski sign, and/or clonus.Show Less
Lateral spinal stenosis generally results in symptoms that are directly related to compression of the nerve roots at the level of the stenosis. Both pain and muscular weakness may result from hypertrophy of the facet joints, spondylosis deformity, bulging of the disc annulus, or herniation of the nucleus pulposus. Although large central disc herniations occur, most extruded disc fragments migrate laterally, and some disc fragments move to a position that is superior or inferior to the interspace.
Many patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) show symptomatic and functional improvement or no changes over time. In one study, 90% of 169 untreated patients with suspected lateral recess stenosis improved symptomatically after 2 years. A 4-year study of 32 patients treated conservatively for moderate stenosis reported unchanged symptoms in 70% of patients, improvements in 15%, and worsening in 15%. Walking capacity improved in 37% of patients, remained unchanged in 33% and worsened in 30%.
The natural history of LSS is not well understood. A slow progression appears to occur in all affected individuals. Even with significant narrowing, such persons are very unlikely to develop an acute cauda equina syndrome in the absence of significant disk herniation. A slow progression of dysfunction in the lumbar spine often leads to a feeling of heaviness in the legs that is only relieved by periods of rest. Infrequently, a facet joint synovial cyst leads to severe canal stenosis and the development of subacute radiculopathy, often characterized by pain and mild weakness. This may develop as a result of trauma or arthritic changes in the facet joint.Show Less
Central spinal stenosis of the cervical or thoracic regions may result in neurosensory changes at the level of the spinal stenosis or may further compress the spinal cord, resulting in myelopathy. The effects of central spinal canal stenosis may result in lower extremity weakness and gait disturbance.Show Less