After a spinal cord injury, the medical care you receive is likely going to seem like it is moving quickly. In the past, doctors thought that it was important to allow the spinal cord to recover before any treatments were done to it. Now, this isn’t the case.
There are many aspects of care after a spinal cord injury that must be done right away. From stabilization and respiratory support to surgery, you should know what you might face after the accident.
Your life is the priority
The priority when you seek medical care after a spinal cord injury is saving your life. Until you are stabilized, they likely won’t do much to address the spine. This is perfectly normal, even if it is maddening. After all, what good would it do to fix your spinal cord if you will pass away due to lack of oxygen because your ability to breathe was impacted? With this in mind, you will likely have ventilator support if you can’t breathe.
Addressing immediate needs
Once you are stable, medical professionals can address your immediate needs. One priority is the need for pain control. In actuality, you might not face much pain when you are suffering from this injury because of the damage to nerves. You may also need help with urination and defecation as well as communication, if your ability to speak was affected.
When surgery is necessary
Surgery is sometimes necessary to correct issues exacerbating the injury. This is the case if you have a spinal compression, a blood clot or a host of other problems that can happen when your spinal cord is injured. Within the first 72 hours after the injury, you might need to have your spinal cord stabilized through a surgical procedure. Some patients will also need to have a spinal fusion.
In the hours and days after the accident, spinal shock is possible. This occurs when there is swelling in the spinal cord due to the body’s reaction to the injury. Steroids and cooling therapies are sometimes used to minimize the amount of swelling that occurs in this area.
These early interventions are only the tip of the iceberg of the treatments you will undergo due to the injury. Whether the treatments are invasive or not, they can have a big impact on the rest of your life. Without them, the injury will likely overshadow your ability to live.