Causes and Symptoms of Lumbar and Thoracic Spine Fracture

Spinal fractures are extremely serious injuries. They most commonly occur in the thoracic and lumbar spine and are usually caused by high impact and sudden forces exerted on the spine such as a car accident or a fall from high altitudes. Men are more vulnerable to either thoracic or lumbar spine fractures up to four times than that of women and the elderly are also at a higher risk due to their loss in bone density due to osteoporosis. Our bones have excellent compressive strength and a large amount of energy is required to fracture it. This would also mean that when there is lumbar or thoracic spine fracture, the surrounding soft tissues as well as the spine will definitely be injured as well, and the extent of the injury is directly proportional to the force acting on the back.

Lumbar and Thoracic spine fractures are often caused by high impact and sudden forces as mentioned previously and some commonly examples are automobile accidents, falling from great heights, injuries from high impact sports such as rugby and violent acts such as from a gunshot. Lumbar and Thoracic spine fractures are not only caused by trauma. They can be caused by ageing diseases such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis reduces bone density and places the patient at a high risk of bone fractures.

Some common symptoms associated with Lumbar and Thoracic spine fractures include severe pain, numbness, heavy breathing, loss of strength and loss of bladder and bowel control. Loss of bladder and bowel control are symptoms of spinal injury and if this symptom is observed, the patient must be sent to the A&E department immediately without further delay. The surrounding tissues will definitely be injured and patients may complain of muscle pain or aches which may sometime even overwhelm the back pain. This is extremely distracting and can possibly “cover up” the spinal injury and result in delayed diagnosis. Depending on the nature of the injury, some patients may even lose consciousness or have a partial memory loss. As a rule of thumb, patients who are involved in automobile accidents are automatically identified as patients with spinal injuries due to the high impact forces sustained during an automobile accident.

No matter how serious the injury is, the patient will require a lengthy rehabilitation process to allow them to regain mobility and reduce the severity of pain. If the injury was too serious, patients may lose some of their senses due to nerve injury.

Why Does Cold Weather Causes Pain in Our Joints?

Do you have an elder at home who seems to be very accurate with her prediction on when the rain will come? They always tell you that once they experience pain in the joint, it will rain soon after. Medically wise, it is still an unsolved mystery about the exact relation between painful joints with cold weather. For a long time, cold and rainy weather has been linked to joint problems and arthritis and these affect areas such as the elbow, wrist, shoulders and knees.

Most people with arthritis or joint problems will suffer pain when the weather changes for the worse. It is largely due to the change in atmospheric pressure. Located in our joints are a lot of sensory nerves which are extremely sensitive to any changes to pressure. Cold weather will cause the linings at the joints to constrict, causing pain and discomfort to patients. Cold weather also restricts the circulation blood flow through the body. As a result, it can cause further inflammation in the joints. Another simple explanation is that during cold and wet weather conditions, movements are severely limited. Most of us will not feel like moving around and want to simply waste our time at home. This lack of movement can cause our body to stiffen up and cause pain in the joints. The natural body mechanism also contributes to joint pain during cold weather. The natural defence mechanism of our body is to divert all the blood from the rest of our body to protect the core of it at the centre of the body. As such, it will divert away and restrict flow to blood to places further from the heart such as the fingers and legs. Due to a reduced blood blow to these extremities, it can cause a lot of problems for people especially those suffering from arthritis.

There is however no strong evidence between cold weather and joint pain although people do experience an increase in joint pain during cold weather. You can try to deal with it with some simple methods. Try to always keep your body covered in thick and warm clothes whenever the weather changes. This will help to proper the flow of blood through your body and reduce joint inflammation. A cup of hot tea or coffee can always help to bring warmth to the rest of your body, relieving some of the symptoms.

 

What is Slipped Herniated Disc?

Our spine is composed entirely of bones called vertebrae and providing them with cushioning are small discs called the intervertebral discs. Over time, the intervertebral discs can lose their elasticity and will place the spine at a higher risk of injury. Pain in the spinal disc have many different terms, the common ones being “pinched nerve”, “slipped disc” and “slipped herniated disc”. The truth is, all of the terms refer to the same thing. Many patients who suffer from back pain, leg pain and the weakening of the lower core muscles are usually diagnosed as suffering from slipped herniated disc.

Over time as we age, the disc will lose its water content and become less elastic. If the event that it ruptures, the spinal disc will get pushed out of its normal position and if they pinch onto the spinal nerves, it is called slipped herniated disc. Slipped disc can also occur due to other reasons beside ageing such as traumatic injuries or cyclic loading of the spinal area. When the herniated disc pinches onto the spinal nerves, it will affect the normal signalling process of the nerves and can even stop the signals from being passed.

Some common symptoms of a slipped herniated disc include sharp electric shock pain, muscle weakness, loss of bladder or bowel control and numbness. If the pinching of the nerves by the herniated disc causes high pressure, it can cause weird sensation such as a sharp electric shock kind of pain and the pain can travel down from the neck area to the arms and legs. Since there is a loss of signalling functions, the instructions from the brain can be interrupted and that can cause weakening of the muscles. One common way to diagnose this is to test for reflexes. If there is a lag in reflexes, it is a sign of nerve irritation. Another symptom is the loss of bowel and/or bladder function. Since there is an issue with nerve signalling, the body is unable to properly control the bowel and bladder and can cause them to release substances without you wanting to. It can also be the other way round where you wish to urinate or defecate but you are unable to. Another common symptom is numbness of a particular area for a long time as numbness usually indicates nerve damage.

The loss of body functions due to nerve damages can affect our lives greatly and we should always take all precautions to protect our spine. This can be easily done by the usage of protective equipment during high impact sports as well as lifting heavy objects using the correct method.