Your spinal cord is the information highway of your body. It sends signals and information from your brain to your body, and from your body back to your brain. When something puts pressure on the spinal cord, like a herniated disc, it can cause pain and other symptoms. The team at TriHealth Orthopedics & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine are experienced in diagnosing and treating spinal cord compression. We offer comprehensive care – from physical therapy to pain management or surgery when needed – to help you find relief.
Spinal Cord Compression
The spinal cord runs from the base of your skull and through the middle of vertebrae, down your spine. When something presses against the spinal cord, like a disc, bone, tendon or muscle, it can cause pain, weakness and other symptoms. It can affect any area of your spine, including the cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (middle back) or lumbar spine (low back).
Spinal cord compression causes
Spinal cord compression is caused by other spine conditions, including:
Spinal cord compression symptoms
The most common symptoms of spinal cord compression include:
- Foot drop
- Numbness in arms/hands or legs/feet
- Weakness in arms/hands or legs/feet
- Bladder or bowel incontinence
If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:
- Difficulty getting out of a chair
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Severe pain or weakness in legs
- Severe/increasing numbness in the legs, including the inner thighs and back of legs
Spinal cord compression treatment
Your treatment will depend on the cause of the pinched nerve. Treatment may include:
- Physical therapy – A certified physical therapist will teach you exercises to reduce pain, improve flexibility and strengthen muscles along the spine.
- Medicine – Over-the-counter and prescription medicine can help relieve chronic pain, reduce inflammation and help you find comfort.
- Injections – Corticosteroid injections, medial branch blocks and other injections can help reduce inflammation and help relieve pain.
- Acupuncture – Thin needles are inserted into specific spots along the spine to trigger the release of certain chemicals into the body, helping reduce pain. Acupuncture is typically used along with traditional treatment, like pain management or physical therapy.
- Fusion surgery – If a conservative approach doesn’t help relieve your symptoms, your provider may discuss surgery. The most common surgery is fusion surgery, where the disc or bone that is pressing the spinal cord is removed. Then, the surgeon will use hardware to stabilize the spine.
Spinal cord compression risk factors
You may be at high risk of developing spinal cord compression if you already have an existing spinal condition. The following conditions can increase your risk for spinal cord compression:
- Certain types of cancer
- Spinal deformities
Spinal cord compression prevention
While spinal cord compression – and the conditions that cause it – can’t be completely prevented, you can take steps to keep yourself and spine healthy and strong:
- Eat healthy
- Exercise regularly
- Lift with your legs; not your back
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Sit up straight
- Strengthen back and core muscles
Schedule an appointment
Find answers about what’s causing your spinal cord compression. The spine specialists at TriHealth Orthopedics & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine offer a wide range of imaging tests to accurately diagnose your condition. It’s just the first step in getting you on a plan that’s right for you. To learn more or make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist: Call TriHealth at 513 246 2300 or our orthopedic partner, Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, at 513 354 3700.