There’s always a risk associated with leaving an injury untreated. Due to the potential long term damage, spinal injuries should always be examined by a qualified medical professional.
Here are some of the consequences of letting three of the most common spine injuries go untreated:
Untreated Vertebral Fractures
A fracture of the vertebrae usually occurs as a result of trauma or injury and should be taken seriously. Not seeing a physician or not following a physician’s treatment plan can lead to:
- Vertebral deformity
- Nerve damage
- Soft tissue damage
- Extreme pain
Like all bones, the vertebrae are meant to perfectly align. When one is fractured and does not heal properly, a deformity occurs. This deformity can affect the shape of the spine and lead to a plethora of problems including severe pain. In some cases, leaving a vertebral fracture untreated can lead to a deformity that can only be corrected by surgery.
Untreated Osteoarthritis of the Spine
Most people have some degree of Spinal osteoarthritis (OA). It doesn’t always need be treated; however, in cases where OA produces unpleasant symptoms involving the neck/back/arms or legs, a physician should always be consulted. Leaving moderate to severe arthritis untreated can cause spinal problems such as:
- Spinal stenosis – the narrowing of the spinal canal from disc bulges, ligament growth, facet joint growth, etc.
- Radiculoplathy – severe nerve pain in the neck/back, arms, hip, legs, and/or thighs
Treating arthritis early is the number one way patients can decrease the chance of needing surgery.
Untreated Herniated Discs
The unpleasant symptoms associated with a herniated disc are due to the disc’s pinching of the spinal cord or spinal nerves. If a patient has a herniated disc and does nothing to treat it, severe nerve damage and pain can result.
Some of the symptoms of untreated herniated discs include:
- Back/Neck pain
- Nerve pain in the arms/legs
- Muscle fatigue
These symptoms can occur in the neck/back or any of the extremities. A common cause of sciatica is a herniated or slipped disc that causes pressure on a nerve root. The result is pain that runs from the lower back down the leg along the sciatic nerve. Surgical intervention may be needed if a herniated disc causes severe enough symptoms that cannot be adequately or safely treated nonsurgically.
Treating Spine Injuries
Advancements in imaging equipment allow physicians to diagnose spine injuries with pin-point accuracy. Because minimally-invasive surgical options are now available, spinal injuries can be treated with minimal downtime. If you or someone you know experiences a spinal injury, you should see a physician with extensive experience in treating these injuries right away.