Spinal Cord Compression: Things to Know


March 12, 2021

The spinal cord refers to a thick column of nerve tissue that runs down your spine, connecting your brain with all different structures in your body. Spinal cord compression often arises when pressure is applied to the spinal cord, leading to a disruption in the nerves’ normal functioning throughout your body.

What Causes Spinal Cord Compression?

Simply put, any condition that applies pressure on the spinal cord certainly leads to spinal cord compression. The most common causes include:

  • Injury: This may arise from a car crash or gun wound. An injury leads to the vertebra’s dislocation, which ultimately puts pressure on the spinal cord, thus resulting in compression.
  • Hematoma: Accumulation of blood around the spinal cord can be dangerous. Often the blood applies pressure on the spinal cord leading to compression. 
  • Abscess: This denotes the accumulation of pus around the spinal cord. Similarly, the accumulated pus may lead to significant damage to your spinal cord due to the amount of pressure it applies.
  • Tumor: It occurs when cancers extend towards the spinal canal. They can be very dangerous, especially those that form inside the spinal cord. They are detrimental in that they pile pressure on the spinal cord.

Who is at Risk?

Anyone is at risk of developing a condition that may lead to spinal cord compression. However, the following people are at a higher risk of developing this condition:

  • People who play contact sports: Sports that involve higher risks of injuries may well lead to spinal cord compression. This is extensive contact that causes injuries.
  • Older people: Conditions such as osteoarthritis in older people can ultimately lead to pressure build-up in the spinal cord.
  • Cancer patients: Great research details that 3 to 5 in 100 people with cancer are at a high risk. This is because primary cancer can extend towards the spinal cord, therefore, leading to pressure build-up. Such cancers include breast cancer, prostate, or myeloma.

What are the Symptoms of Spinal Cord Compression?

Some mild to serious symptoms that you may experience:

Mild symptoms include

Serious symptoms:

  •  The problem may extend to your bladder, and you may end up experiencing bladder or bowel problems such as the inability to urinate.

Which Conditions Can It Cause?

Spinal cord compression has the potential to cause permanent damage to the nerves in the spine. This mainly occurs where the condition is left untreated over a long period of time. Ultimately, paralysis may as well arise.

Therefore, specialists recommend prompt treatment to help treat the condition before it permanently damages your spinal cord.

How Can You Treat It?

Surgery: This is an imperative treatment care recommended by specialists when compression may lead to permanent damage. The surgery works to repair fractured vertebrae as well as remove bone spurs.

Radiation therapy: Tumors are treated using radiation therapy to prevent cancerous cells from extending to the spinal cord.

Draining of Abscess or Hematoma: The pus or blood accumulated around the spinal cord can be removed through drainage. 

Vitamin K injections: If blood accumulation around the spine results from a bleeding disorder, you might undergo vitamin K injections to stabilize the condition.

Starting treatment early helps avoid permanent damage. Therefore, if you find yourself experiencing symptoms associated with Spinal Cord Compression, don’t hesitate to contact us. At Southeast Pain & Spine Care, we are ready to assist you.