Spinal Compression - Medical Negligence Lawyers
If you have been injured by a healthcare professional including a doctor, dentist, nurse or technician and would like to speak to a medical negligence lawyer without further obligation, just use the helpline. A spinal compression medical negligence lawyer who deals exclusively in personal injury claims will speak to you, giving free advice and information on how best to preserve your legal right to receive compensation for spinal compression as a result of injuries caused by medical negligence.
Our medical negligence lawyers have solicitors offices situated in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Darwin.
When thinking of spinal compression, one can think of spinal cord compression or a spinal compression fracture. The first refers to compression of the spinal cord by fragments of bone in a vertebral fracture, secondary to tumors, abscesses or due to a ruptured intervertebral disc. It is a medical emergency and needs a fast diagnosis in order to prevent disability due to long term spinal cord damage. Side effects can be low back pain, areas of increased sensation, and paralysis of the body below the level of the spinal cord compression. There can be incontinence of bladder and bowel or urinary retention. There is a lack of sensation below the level of compression.
The diagnosis of spinal cord compression depends on x-rays, especially CT scan of the back or an MRI scan of the back, which uses electromagnetic radio waves, which highlight soft tissue damage.
The treatment of spinal cord compression includes intrathecal dexamethasone to shrink swelling. Surgery can be used in localized areas of compression that stand a good chance of recovering function. Emergency radiation is given after surgery when it is discovered that a malignant tumor has caused the compression of the spinal cord. Certain spinal cord compression is due to a tumor that is sensitive to chemotherapy and this is done.
A spinal cord fracture is different from a spinal cord compression. It is more likely due to age and to osteoporosis. Trauma is more likely to be a factor in spinal compression fracture. The main symptom is having back pain and being older than age 60 years. Vertebral compression fractures are often small and progressive, leading to ever greater compression. Osteoporosis is a big trigger for getting spinal compression fractures, particularly in women who are postmenopausal greater than 50 years of age. These bones are weakened and soft-brittle when handled too roughly in injuries or the wear and tear of being on one's feet. If you slip on a rug or miss a step, you are likely to create spinal bone trouble for yourself. Even sneezing or coughing can result in a compression fracture.
After numerous small compression fractures occur, the body begins to take on a toll. Hairline fractures put altogether to cause complete collapse of the vertebra or a spinal compression fracture. The shape and strength of the spine become abnormal. The spine will become shorter and there will be a preferential collapse of the front of the vertebrae, leading to a dowager's hump or kyphosis.
These tiny fractures can permanently alter the strength and shape of the spine. You lose height because your spine is shorter. Most compression fractures occur in the front of the vertebra, which causes the front part of the bone to collapse -- creating a wedge-shaped vertebra. The back of the bone is unchanged because it's made of harder bone. This creates the stooped posture called kyphosis, or dowager's hump.
Almost two-thirds of spinal compression fractures are hidden and they are vastly more common than once believed. They are not just a normal sign of aging or a case of elderly arthritis. Many people don't see the doctor until the osteoporosis has gotten so bad that deformity and pain is all that's left over. It is very difficult to get strong bones back when they have developed osteoporosis. It is far better to prevent the osteoporosis in the first place. Spinal compression fractures can result in an increase in lung and breathing problems, along with the possibility of human death. The patient has pain and is depressed; he takes pain medication, gets more depressed and gets constipated because of the pain medications. It becomes a never-ending cycle.
The two group of individuals at the greatest risk for developing spinal fractures include those who have osteoporosis and weak bones, and those who have cancer that has spread to bone. The types of cancer most likely to metastasize to bone include the following: lymphoma and multiple myeloma. At times, the spinal fracture is the first sign that cancer may be there.
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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here