The Spinal column (SC) consists of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles prepared to support weight, and thereby protect the integrity of neurological structures: the spinal cord and nerves. When the weight exceeds the limit that these structures inherently can support, we may be facing SC injuries with or without neurological damage.

SC injuries can occur in any day-to-day situation: falls, minor trauma, great impact or intensity, road or work accidents, as well as recreational accidents related to sports activities and diving.

The consequences of trauma caused by these accidents can range from a small bruise and localised pain, to fractures that can be stable or unstable, or severe damage to neurological structures with functional impairment.

Treatment varies depending on the type and severity of the injury. With simple bruising, analgesics are sufficient. In stable fractures, the so-called “conservative” treatment may initially be tried, which consists of rest, analgesics and, sometimes, the use of an orthosis (brace, or cervical collar). In unstable fractures, there are several surgical treatment possibilities. The simplest is the reinforcement of the spinal column with cement through a cannula (vertebroplasty), the placement of internal fixators to allow stability and consolidation of the fracture, or a technique that results in fusion between the vertebrae (arthrodesis). It should be noted that in recent years these techniques have evolved remarkably, are minimally invasive and can be performed percutaneously, reducing surgical aggression and shorten the recovery period.

As far as prevention is concerned, especially with regards to older people, where a high prevalence of osteoporosis contributes to VC bone fragility, appropriate treatment of this pathology must be carried out. In this more fragile group of the population, where there is often difficulty in locomotion, falls should be prevented by removing certain obstacles (e.g. carpets and steps), the use of aids such as crutches or walker is also useful to facilitate gait, although these always require prior training with a physiotherapist. For the general population, prevention involves compliance with road safety rules (seatbelt, speed limits) to minimise a potential injury resulting from an accident. Compliance with hygiene and safety rules at work to reduce the frequency and number of accidents. Avoiding as much as possible, activities that involve unnecessary risks as these are a very frequently the cause of cervical and spinal cord trauma. Diving into the sea or swimming pool, before diving make sure that you are not diving into a shallow end or that there are no rocks.

For more information contact HPA Grupo Saude on +351 282 420 400