Correct spine curvatures are the most common symptoms of spinal cord injury and are linked to an increased risk of developing back pain, new research has found.
Key points:Spinal cord injuries are associated with a range of physical symptoms including pain, muscle stiffness, weakness and weakness in the arms and legsResearchers say spinal cord injuries can cause a range to symptoms from back pain to muscle stiffness and weaknessThe study found that spinal cord fractures are associated to a range for symptoms including back pain and muscle stiffnessIn an editorial published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), researchers from the University of Melbourne and the University, Sydney found that while there is no simple test that can be used to diagnose spinal cord pain, the following tests can be considered useful to identify the extent of the damage and to assist with treatment.
The researchers analysed the findings of more than 12,000 people who were part of the Victorian cohort of the Painful Spinal Injury Project (PSIP), a nationwide study of spinal injuries and related problems, as well as Australian and overseas patients.
The authors found that people with mild-to-moderate spinal cord trauma, or those with a mild spine curvament, had a similar incidence of symptoms to people with more severe injuries.
This suggests that a low-level of spinal injury, such as a spinal cord fracture, can result in a relatively small range of symptoms, and a higher degree of symptom severity.
But there is evidence to suggest that a higher number of symptoms could be the result of other issues that affect the body, including pain and inflammation.
Professor Richard Denton, from the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University’s Faculty of Medicine, and his team say that they found a significant difference between those with mild to moderate spinal cord damage and those with more serious injuries.
“There was a difference in pain levels between the two groups, but this was not related to severity of spinal damage,” he said.
“What we found was that those with the highest number of spinal pain symptoms were more likely to have the lowest incidence of pain in the study.”
This is not the first time we have shown that these two groups have different pain-related risk profiles.
“Professor Denton said the findings were of concern for both the injured and their families.”
The main message from this study is that spinal pain and other symptoms should be looked at in the context of the overall physical and functional disability of the affected individual, rather than in isolation,” he explained.”
We need to be aware of the severity of the symptoms that are present, and then decide if we are willing to pay the costs of spinal fusion and re-opening of the injured person’s lower extremities in order to help alleviate the symptoms.
“The researchers say the new findings add to growing evidence that spinal injury can be a significant risk factor for back pain.”
In addition to the impact of trauma on the affected limb, the impact is likely to be more widespread than previously thought, particularly for younger adults, who have a higher risk of injury compared to older adults,” Professor Denton explained.
He said there was a need for more research to understand why certain spinal injuries could cause pain in people with lower limb injury, but that further research could help to understand how different types of injuries affect different parts of the body.”
It is important that researchers continue to study these questions as a way of further understanding how different kinds of injuries, such a spinal fracture, affect different types and sizes of organs, such the spinal cord,” he added.
Professor Dickson said more research was needed to understand the role of spinal curvature in the pathophysiology of pain, inflammation and pain-induced disability.”
As the population of people who are affected by spinal cord, including people with spinal cord and spinal cord-related injuries, increases, this will help us to develop more effective therapies to help those people,” he suggested.