Spinal dislocation or instability refers to a condition caused due to the over-stretching or rupture of the ligaments causing the spine to move out of its normal alignment. It may also cause the vertebrae to ‘lock’ over each other.
Spinal dislocation and instability signs & symptoms
The symptoms of spinal dislocation and instability vary depending on the location and severity of the trauma.
The common symptoms include:
- Pain in the neck and back
- Numbness and tingling sensation in the arms or legs
- Muscle spasms
- Weakness in the hands or legs
- Difficulty in walking
- Difficulty in maintaining balance
- Bowel or bladder changes
- Urinary urgency or incontinence
Spinal dislocation and instability common causes
The most common causes of spinal dislocation and instability are spinal cord injuries.
Partial dislocation of the spine may occur when the joints in the vertebrae become weak due to an injury to the muscles or ligaments allowing abnormal movements of the bones.
Pre-existing illnesses like spinal tumors and osteoporosis can also increase the risk of spinal dislocation and instability.
Treatments / Surgical options
Medications such as pain relievers, opioids, and antidepressants may be prescribed depending on the specific symptoms of the patient.
Surgery is recommended when the extent of dislocation is considerable putting the patient at the risk of compression of nerves or other vital structures. The goal of surgery is to realign the dislocated joints and bones and relieve the pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots.
A spinal dislocation is usually corrected by a procedure called ‘reduction’ that involves surgery or traction to realign the dislocated vertebrae. Patients may also need to undergo spinal fusion surgery to align and join the vertebrae such that they can maintain a stable position.
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