Lumbar spinal cord injury is not very common, due to the anatomical design of the lower back. However, injury to the cauda equina nerve roots is very common and can have similar, if not identical effects to cord injury at higher vertebral levels.
Spinal cord injury is always a very serious concern. Traumas to the spinal cord can have permanent consequences on motor and sensory ability and might also influence autonomic functions in various organs and bodily systems. Even the least significant spinal cord trauma is still a dire situation which should never be taken lightly.
This dialog explores the occurrence of spinal cord injury in the lumbar spine. We will provide information explaining why lumbar cord trauma is not commonplace and why cauda equina syndrome is much more frequently observed in injurious circumstances. We will also provide a detailed look at the various types of cord injury and their collateral results. If you want to learn all about lumbar spinal cord injury, then you are in the right place.
Classifications of Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury
There are 2 primary classifications of lumbar spinal cord injury, including complete and incomplete designations:
Complete lumbar spinal cord injury means that no neurological functionality exists below the level of injury. The patient will be unable to feel or move any part of their body innervated by nerves below the traumatized spinal level. These complete cord injuries can be further classified as transitory or permanent, although these classifications are often subjective and subject to change.
Incomplete spinal cord injury means that some degree of neurological functionality exists below the damaged spinal level. The degree of functionality remaining ranges from 99% to 1%, so this is a very wide spanning diagnosis, encompassing the least significant injuries through conditions that are virtually complete cord traumas. Once again, these conditions can be further broken down into transitory and permanent varieties with the same subjectivity as the complete cord injuries detailed above.
Lower Back Spinal Cord Injury Factsheet
The spinal cord only exists for a very short distance in the lumbar spine of most people, generally separating into the cauda equina around the L1 spinal level. In some people, there is no cord in the lumbar spine, since it can break apart into the cauda equina nerve roots as high as level T12. In others, the cord does not end until as low as level L3.
Cauda equina injury will basically produce the same effects as spinal cord injury. Therefore, it is safe to classify cauda equina traumas as being as serious as cord injuries when it comes to their potential consequences.
Of all spinal cord injuries, these occurring in the lumbar spine are the least clinically significant. This is because neurological functionality in much of the body will remain and only the lower body will be affected. Lumbar cord injuries are less significant than thoracic and cervical traumas. Basically, the higher the level of spinal cord injury, the worse and wider-ranging its potential consequences will be.
Spinal cord injury in the lumbar spine, as well as cauda equina syndrome, can occur due to traumatic injury, disease process, extreme spinal degeneration or congenital defect. One of the major sources of lumbar nerve injury is spinal surgery. This is just one of the reasons why we try to dissuade patients from pursuing surgical care for the majority of lower back pain profiles.
Managing Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury
There are few universally effective treatment options for lumbar spinal cord injury or cauda equina trauma. Furthermore, the effectiveness of any treatment is largely dependent on the nature of each patients conditions and the causative process that created the injury.
Cord trauma caused by disease might be treatable to some extent using pharmaceutical products and/or specialized surgical intervention.
Cord trauma caused by degeneration or acute spinal abnormalities typically respond best to treatment, including decompressing the spinal canal and reinforcing the spine with hardware-assisted spinal fusion procedure.
Acute injurious traumas like car accidents, falls, acts of violence and sporting injuries tend to fare the worst when it comes to therapeutic efficacy. The patient an often be stabilized, but in some cases, damage done is permanent and neurological functionality might not return dispute successfully care.
Stem cell treatments show promise for being able to repair and rebuild damaged spinal cord and nerve tissues, but so far, progress using these technologies is slow due to ridiculous arguments involving politics and religion more than science…