Medical Terms – Neck and Back Injuries
Prior to providing a list of specific medical terms, I am going to attempt to provide an easy to digest overview of the back. Your spinal column consists of 31 vertebrae which are bones stacked upon one another which house and protect the spinal canal. The individual vertebrae in the vertebral column are separated by discs. The discs in your spine allow for movement and act as shock absorbers. Each disc is made up of a center portion of a gel like material which is surrounded fibrous material that keeps the gel in place. Think of a jelly doughnut. The jelly is the nucleus and the surrounding doughnut is the annulus. If the doughnut is compressed the jelly will move to the edges and out of the center where it belongs.
Annulus fibrosus is the tough fibrous exterior of the invertebral discs. If we go back to the jelly doughnut example, this is the doughnut.
A bulging disc is a medical condition that describes a disc which bulges outside of the space which it should normally occupy. They result from a stretching or weakening of the annulus fibrosus which allows the nucleus pulposus to occupy a larger area. If we go back to the jelly doughnut example, imagine applying pressure to the jelly doughnut to a point in which the sides expand, but do not allow any of the jelly to escape.
Burst fractures are severe and are usually caused by trauma or extreme force. The vertebra has been crushed and the spinal column and cord compromised. This type of fracture is unstable and requires immediate medical care.
Caudal migration describes the conditions when a piece of disc material breaks off and begins travelling down the spine. If we go back to the jelly doughnut example, a caudal migration describes a condition in which the jelly escapes the doughnut and moves away from the doughnut.
Cervical Radiculopathy is the damage to the nerve function that results when one of the nerves near the cervical vertebrae is compressed. Cervical radiculopathy can be caused by a slip and fall, a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a bicycle accident or a pedestrian accident. Its symptoms include a pain that radiates from the upper back into the shoulder(s) and arm(s).
Cervical Spinal Cord Injury
The cervical area of the spine is located primarily in the neck. It may be noted by the shorthand C1-C8 which describes each vertebra in the cervical region. Spinal cord injuries occur when the bones protecting the spinal cord are damaged causing the spinal cord to be damaged. Injuries to the cervical area of the spinal cord may cause complete paralysis beginning at the location of the injury extending down. Many times this injury results in quadriplegia.
A compressions fracture is the collapse of a vertebra. Compression fractures can occur as a result of a slip and fall, a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a bicycle accident or pedestrian accident
Compression-Torsion-Translation Fractures result from multiple forces. As the name implies this spinal fracture occurs when there is compression, twisting, turning and movement without rotation.
Flexion Compression Fracture
This type of fracture more commonly occurs at T1 and L1 vertebral bodies and typically involves some loss of vertebral height. X-rays are utilized to determine the stability of the fracture. If the middle and posterior columns are intact, the fracture is thought to be stable and treated with conservative measures.
Flexion Distraction Fracture
This is also referred to as a Chance Fracture. It is often the result of a car accident when a seat belt is utilized. All three columns of the vertebral body are involved with possible injury to the disc, ligaments and the bone. It is an unstable fracture that requires immediate medical evaluation and stabilization.
A herniated disc is medical condition in which a tear in the annulus fibrosus allows the nucleus pulposus to escape. If we go back to the jelly doughnut example, a herniated disc describes a condition in which the jelly escapes the doughnut.
Invertebral discs lie between adjacent vertebrae in the spinal column and allow for movement in the spine and act as shock absorbers along the spine.
Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury
The lumbar area of the spine is located primarily in the lower back. It may be noted by the shorthand L1-L5 which describes each vertebra in the lumbar region. Spinal cord injuries occur when the bones protecting the spinal cord are damaged causing the spinal cord to be damaged. Injuries to the lumbar area of the spinal cord may cause complete paralysis beginning at the location of the injury extending down. Many times this injury results in paraplegia.
The nucleus pulposus is the inner core of the vertebral discs. If we go back to the jelly doughnut example, it is the jelly.
Paraplegia refers to a condition in which there is a loss of sensation in and the ability to move the lower extremities. The paralysis is usually present from the point of injury to the spinal cord and extends downward.
Quadriplegia refers to a condition in which there is a loss of sensation in and the ability to move the either the arms or legs. The paralysis is usually present from the point of injury to the spinal cord and extends downward.
Sacral Spinal Cord Injury
The sacral area of the spine is located bottom of the spinal column in the hip area. It may be noted by the shorthand S1-S5 which describes each vertebra in the sacral region. Spinal cord injuries occur when the bones protecting the spinal cord are damaged causing the spinal cord to be damaged. Injuries to the sacral area of the spinal cord typically cause incontinence issues and sexual dysfunction.
The sacrum is a large, triangular bone located at the base of spine and lies between the fifth segment of the lumbar spine and the tailbone. From a functional standpoint, the sacrum connects the hip bones to the spine.
Sciatica is a term that describes pain and/or numbness which originates in the lower back and radiates down the leg(s). Sciatica is not a medical diagnosis, but is instead a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. Sciatica can be caused by a slip and fall, a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a bicycle accident or a pedestrian accident.
The spine, otherwise referred to as your backbone, is a column of vertebral bones stacked upon one another separated by discs. Each vertebra has a hole in its center which lines up with the vertebra above and below. The spinal canal is the opening in the vertebrae through which the spinal cord runs.
The spinal cord is long bundle of nerves that extends from the brainstem to the lumbar region of the back. Essentially, the spinal cord transmits messages from the brain to the rest of your body. The spinal cord also has neural circuits that can independently control numerous reflexes.
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries occur when the bones protecting the spinal cord are damaged causing the spinal cord to be damaged. Spinal cord injuries are classified as complete or incomplete. An incomplete spinal cord injury means that some of the ability to transmit messages is still possible. There still may be some ability to move or perceive sensations below the point of injury in an incomplete spinal injury.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces in the spine which can cause pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. When one vertebra slips forward onto another it can narrow the spinal canal. Other injuries associated with accidents also can cause spinal stenosis such as dislocation of the spine or burst fractures which actually send bone fragments into the spinal canal.
Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury
The thoracic area of the spine is located in the center of the spine and extends from the base of the neck down to the end of the rib cage. It may be noted by the shorthand T1-C12 which describes each vertebra in the thoracic region. Spinal cord injuries occur when the bones protecting the spinal cord are damaged causing the spinal cord to be damaged. Injuries to the thoracic area of the spinal cord may cause complete paralysis beginning at the location of the injury extending down. Many times this injury results in paraplegia.
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome or TMJ
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is a disorder of the jaw muscles and nerves caused by injury to the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint is the connection between the jawbone to the skull. The injured temporomandibular joint leads to pain with chewing, clicking, and popping of the jaw; swelling on the sides of the face; nerve inflammation; headaches; tooth grinding; Eustachian tube dysfunction; and sometimes dislocation of the temporomandibular joint. Temporomandibular joint syndrome is also known as the temporomandibular joint disorder.
Vertebrae are the bones which comprise the backbone. The vertebra are complex structures each consisting of bone and cartilage. There is a hole in each vertebra that forms the spinal column and houses the spinal cord.
Whiplash is a non-medical term that is given to an injury which is very common in rear end car accidents. The name is derived from the manner in which the head snaps back then forward and back again causing injury to the neck and middle of the spine. Often times the pain associated with whiplash does manifest itself until several days after the accident. The medical term for whiplash is cervical acceleration-deceleration (CAD).
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