Under Which Circumstances Should You Suspect a Spinal Injury

There are many types of spinal injuries that we are all susceptible to as humans. There are various factors that can influence these injuries. They include age, fitness level, type of work, etc. I’ll go over each of these factors and provide some symptoms that may be associated with spinal injuries.

Age

This is one of the biggest factors when it comes to spinal “injuries”. I put injuries in quotes because most of the time when middle-aged or elderly folk complain of back problems, it is most likely a deteriorating issue. By deteriorating I mean that the discs within the spine will become smaller and less cushioned over time, sometimes resulting in bone on bone contact. There are also arthritic changes in which the spinal bones are directly affected. Along with that, spinal stenosis occurs over time and causes the canal in which the spinal cord runs through to become thinner and eventually can squeeze the spinal cord. This can result in serious radiating pain spreading throughout the lower back and down through the legs, or even in the neck region and spread down the arms.

Fitness level

Many people also get injured while working out or can even get injured because they don’t work out. One of the most important factors that can help prevent spinal injuries includes core strength. With a stronger core, you are less likely to injure your spine. Some people who disregard their core and still workout heavily will injure their back and sometimes “slip a disc”. This is considered a disc herniation and usually presents symptoms of radiating pain from a certain point on the spine, through the buttocks and down one or both legs. Younger people with this type of injury will usually have the pain increase by moving into flexion, which for example would be leaning over to try and touch the floor. Symptoms are often temporarily relieved by moving the back into extension, which would be arching the back inwards.

Type of work

This factor is most relevant to both lower and upper spinal injuries. For the most part, if you do hard labor, you are more likely to experience a lower back injury because of the constant lifting of objects. People that sit at a desk all day (which is constant flexion of the back) can definitely experience those injuries as well. If you are in a profession that involves lifting overhead or looking down at a screen or a phone constantly, you are more likely to experience an upper back injury. Injuries of the spine in the neck region will usually give you pain in the shoulder blades and/or down one or both arms. Whether this is a herniated disc or a nerve being pinched, very similar symptoms will be present.

Along with these factors and the most notable symptoms, there are more to touch up on. Injuries to the upper spine will sometimes cause severe headaches or migraines. Along with that, there can be spinal fractures after being struck in the back. Usually these are small chips in the vertebrae and can present symptoms that include muscle soreness, numbness, and tingling throughout the back and other regions. For the most part, however, spinal injuries are most associated with the discs, the spinal cord, and the nerves around them.

What is a Hemangioma on the Spine?

Hemangioma sounds like something very scary but in fact it is just a benign tumor that develops from blood vessels.  You will often see them on a newborn’s skin as a red birthmark that fades over time.  However these benign tumors can form on your internal organs as will including your spine.  So what is a hemangioma on the spine and are they dangerous?

Spinal Hemangiomas

Spinal hemangiomas are fairly common with roughly 10% of the population having them, they are the most common of all spinal tumors.  They will most likely develop in the lower spine or upper to mid spine.  It is extremely rare to get a hemangioma in the bones of your neck.  Most people are completely unaware that they have one and often they are discovered during some other procedure.  The only time that they require any treatment is if they are causing you pain or discomfort.

Symptoms of Spinal Hemangioma

Most of these tumors cause absolutely no symptoms at all but on the rare occasion that you do have symptoms the most common is pain.  There are millions of nerves in your spine and if the tumor grows it can put pressure on the nerves nearby.  This pain can travel to the arms and legs, you can suffer from weakness or numbness in your limbs.  If your vertebrae becomes weakened by the hemangioma you can end up with a compression fracture.  In the worst case scenario you can have bleeding that compresses the nerves around the spinal cord.  Here is a closer look at how neurosurgeons diagnose spinal tumors.

Causes and Diagnoses of Hemangiomas

Most of the time a hemangioma is only diagnosed in middle age and they happen to both men and women, however women have symptoms more often.  To diagnose a hemangioma it is going to take a MRI or a CT scan to find them.  For hemangiomas that will require surgery you may need an angiogram so that your surgeon knows exactly where the blood vessels lie.

Treating a Hemangioma

Treatment can vary but it will depend on things like your health, where exactly the tumor is located and the symptoms you are suffering from.  It is very rare that a spinal hemangioma even needs treatment at all but in those rare cases treatment can include embolization, radiation therapy and kyphoplasty.  Your neurosurgeon will discuss your options with you along with the best course of treatment.