This is a condition in which the lower or upper appendages of the body lose its functionality. It occurs as a result of damage to the cervical spine, which comprises of the first 7 vertebra from the skull. Such damage is directly caused by pressure exerted on the spinal cord located inside the neck. Apart from the extremities, this condition may affect bowel movement and cause bladder malfunction.
It does not only arise from physical aspect where spinal cord is compressed but can be contributed by any other non-physical mechanism that interferes with normal signal transmission by the neurons. Remember, spinal cord contains millions of neurons that transmit signals from the brains to the rest of the body.
Other than these direct causes, there exist some factors that may predispose one to it. These risk factors include:
Symptoms manifested may depend on the degree of damage and the position of vertebrae involved. They may vary from one patient to another; differ in the timing and pattern of progression.
Some of these symptoms are not uniquely linked to this condition and as such cannot offer absolute diagnosis. It is worth noting that obtaining correct diagnosis is the surest way to getting the right treatment.
Preliminary examination is based on obtaining information on preexisting family history, physical examination on muscles state and limb movement. Sometimes examinations involve neurological aspect to determine mental state, visual health and reflex response.
Further diagnosis requires obtaining of radiographic images of the neck. These images are produced using different gadgets to determine degree of damage to the cervical spine. These gadgets include:
The present symptoms backed by any significant changes or signs of pressure to the vertebral column observed on these images are enough to ascertain it.
Treatment options depend on the severity of the symptoms and the degree of damage observed. Basically initial treatment incorporates alleviating the symptoms and prevention of further damage. These involve:
The final treatment option is surgery. This being the last resort requires proper consultation with a neurosurgeon. Surgery is performed to release pressure exerted on the spine. There are a number of surgery options available. Some of the most common ones are: