It’s estimated over 12,000 people in the US will suffer spinal cord injuries this year alone. The weeks, months, and years following present unique challenges that must be overcome. If you or a loved one is impacted, it’s important to first become knowledgeable of the condition in order to take it head-on. This requires understanding the inside mechanics of spinal injury and where it can occur.
A General Spinal Anatomy Lesson
Many of us think of the spine as a single part of the body. It’s actually quite a bit more complicated than that. The column of nerves is separated into 31 butterfly-shaped vertebrae, and it’s generally split up into five main areas:
- Cervical: Upper-most area of the spine where the connection is made with the brain
- Thoracic: Middle of the spine
- Lumbar: Lower region of the spine where curvature can be felt in the lower back
- Sacral: Triangular lower region of the spine made up of nerve roots
- Coccygeal: Single vertebra at the base of the spinal cord, often referred to as the tailbone
As you can see, the spine is more complicated than a single bone in the body. Because of this, there are a variety of spine conditions from which you may be suffering.
Why Does It Matter?
So, just why is it so important to understand this anatomy when it comes to spinal rehabilitation? Your doctor will need to understand the complications possible according to where your spinal injury has occurred. Based on the area, they can pinpoint the correct rehabilitation to best ensure proper treatment. Just some spinal conditions that may be diagnosed include:
- Cervical Radiculopathy
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Facet Syndrome
- Herniated Discs
- Lumbar Radiculopathy
- Spinal Stenosis
Two Main Types of Spinal Cord Injury
Now that we’ve broken the spine into five parts, we can further break down spinal injury into two primary categories. These are incomplete and complete. Incomplete injuries mean the cord was only partially severed, and the patient is able to retain some function. However, when the spine is completely severed, this can be more difficult to achieve.
Incomplete Spinal Injury
Incomplete spinal injury is more common and accounts for more than half of occurrences. It’s important to understand both where your injury is located and whether it’s complete or incomplete as this can help you ask your doctor the right questions to ultimately assign the correct label to the problem.
Complete Spinal Injury
There are three main complete spinal injuries people suffer with:
- Tetraplegia: Typically the most severe case and can produce varying degrees of paralysis to all limbs
- Paraplegia: Paralysis or loss of movement of the lower half of the body
- Triplegia: Paralysis or loss of feeling in one arm and both legs
Do You Have a Spinal Injury?
The good news is that, if you have a spinal cord injury, it’s not something you’re going to have to wonder about. You’ll know there’s an issue. The hard part is figuring out what type of injury you have. As you work with your doctor to make this important determination, just some of the symptoms that are important to make note of include:
- Varying degrees of paralysis
- Breathing issues
- Bladder and/or bowel issues
- Chronic pain
- Fertility issues
- Mood changes
- Nerve pain
- Chronic muscle pain
Get the Best Care Possible
The best thing you can do when it comes to making an accurate diagnosis and identifying the best treatment is to seek out the best physiatrist Miami. Your spinal health makes a significant impact on your quality of life. As you seek out the best care possible, just a few things to look for in a qualified spine doctor in Miami include:
- Are they board-certified?
- Are their office hours compatible with your schedule?
- Is the office staff friendly and accommodating?
- Do they return your calls?
- Will they respect your opinions?
- Do they have a good track record?
These are critical questions to ask yourself before choosing a physiatrist Miami. You should never just schedule with the first one who appears in a Google search. The great news is that the Internet has made it easier than ever to do research. You can access reviews to get a good idea of just how well a particular doctor is with their patients.
Your spinal health is critical. By understanding your spinal anatomy and the nature of the various spinal issues you may be facing, you and your doctor can be on your way to applying the right spinal rehabilitation.