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Treating Lumbar Spinal Cord and Lower Back Injuries

Illustration of lower spinal cord including vertebrae

 

Treating Lumbar Spinal Cord and Lower Back Injuries in New Jersey

The lumbar spine consists of the lower portion of the spine, specifically the five vertebrae below the thoracic section. Those vertebrae are known as L1-L5. The lumbar spine carries most of the weight of the human body. Patients who have experienced a lumbar spinal cord injury to their lower back can seek out treatment at NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute. We provide a variety of advanced spine procedures.

What Causes a Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury?

Many things can cause an injury to the lower spinal cord. The most common causes are:

  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Falls
  • Birth defects
  • Degeneration
  • Osteoporosis
  • Spine tumors
  • Infections

Other conditions can cause a lumber spinal cord injury. These include:

Sacralization

Sacralization is when the lower lumbar vertebra, the L5, is attached to the sacrum, or the very bottom of the spine. Normally, a person has no noticeable symptoms. However, symptoms can include arthritis, reduced range of motion, or pain in the legs and buttocks. Sacralization can cause other spinal cord injuries to intensify.

Cysts

Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can develop virtually anywhere on the body. When they form on the spinal cord, cysts can put pressure on the nerves in the spine and cause pain, loss of sensation, or loss of function in the area where the cyst is. A cyst can also form because of repetitive motion stress injuries.

Fractures

A fracture most often happens when there is a traumatic injury to the spine. If the bone shatters, the bone shards can damage or pinch nerves in the spinal cord. A fracture can cause a complete spinal cord injury, meaning nerve signals can be cut from places below the spinal injury.

Symptoms of Lower Back Spinal Cord Injuries

Besides the pain that can come with a spinal cord injury, there are other symptoms to look out for, including:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling or feeling of pins and needles
  • Reduced strength or weakness
  • Paralysis, or lack of muscle control
  • Spasticity, or muscles that remain flexed uncontrollably
  • Erectile dysfunction

When there is a spinal cord injury, the patient can also experience autonomic symptoms, such as:

  • Slow heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low body temperature
  • Incontinence
  • Loss of function in the hips or legs (for lumbar spinal cord injuries)

Diagnosing a Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury

The first step to any diagnosis is a physical examination. At NU-Spine, Dr. Branko Skovrlj will look for any physical clues of an injury. Then, he may perform a variety of other tests, including:

  • Neurological exam to test the strength of limbs, as well as reflexes and sensations
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan to check for bone-related injuries
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to show detailed images of bones, soft tissue, and nerves
  • Nerve conduction test to determine whether nerve signals are reaching muscles

Treating a Lower Back Injury

The course of treatment for a lower back injury depends on the location of the injury and its severity. The medical team at NU-Spine will work with patients to determine which treatment plan is the best course of action. Treatments may include:

Non-Surgical Treatments

A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, can be used to help relieve pain and swelling around the injury. Physical therapy can also be used to treat a lower back injury.

Surgical Procedures

Surgery may relieve symptoms of a lower spinal cord injury. At NU-Spine, our neurosurgeons specialize in minimally invasive spine surgery. This type of procedure focuses on getting the same or better results as traditional spinal surgery. Minimally invasive procedures to treat a lower back injury include:

  • Lumbar foraminotomy: This procedure enlarges the space in the vertebrae that the nerves pass through. The enlargement helps to relieve pressure on the nerves.
  • Hemilaminectomy: During this procedure, part of the vertebrae is cut away to remove a herniated disc.
  • Laminectomy: The lamina is a vertebral bone that covers and protects the spine. During a laminectomy, all or part of the lamina is removed to help relieve pressure.
  • Lumbar microdiscectomy: This includes procedures where a damaged or herniated disc is removed.
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF): This procedure involves a spinal fusion in which an intervertebral disc is removed and two spinal bones are fused together.
  • Extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF): Similar to TLIF surgery, this procedure is done with the surgeon entering laterally or from the side.

A minimally invasive spine surgery involves an incision of two centimeters or less where a small tube containing a microscope, camera, light, and precision tools is inserted. The surgery is completed from that small incision. The biggest benefit of minimally invasive spine surgery is that it limits damage to the body, as there is no need to cut through muscle and tissues. Other benefits include:

  • Quicker results
  • Less blood loss
  • Less muscle and nerve damage
  • Less bruising
  • Faster recovery time
  • Lower risks
  • Ability to go home on the same day as surgery (for most patients)

Choose NU-Spine to Treat Lower Back or Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury

The neurosurgeons at NU-Spine are board-certified and among the best at treating spine issues with minimally invasive surgery. If a patient has a lower back or lumbar spinal cord injury, visit Dr. Skovrlj and his team for pain relief. With convenient offices in Paramus, Woodbridge, Toms River, Jersey City, and Holmdel, New Jersey, living life pain-free is closer than you thought. Contact us today to learn more!

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Spine Center Locations

1. Paramus
37 W Century Road Suite 105A
Paramus, NJ 07652

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3. Woodbridge
573 Amboy Ave.
Woodbridge Township,
NJ 07095

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5. Toms River
1901 Hooper Ave. #B
Toms River, NJ 08753

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7. Hainesport
300 Creek Crossing Blvd,
Suite 307 Hainesport, NJ 08036

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2. Jersey City
631 Grand Street, Suite 2-100
Jersey City, NJ 07304

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4. Holmdel/Bell Works
101 Crawfords Corner Rd.
Suite 1116-B
Holmdel, NJ 07733

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6. Freehold
1000 West Main Street
Suite 201
Freehold, NJ 07728

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