Anterior cord syndrome is a spinal injury and may also be referred to as Beck’s syndrome. This spinal injury can be caused by both trauma and non-trauma processes, although it is most likely to occur through non-trauma processes. Anterior cord syndrome is known as an incomplete spinal cord injury, meaning some functions may remain below the primary level of the injury.
How Do Spinal Injuries Occur?
Spinal injuries can occur for a variety of different reasons, including falls or physical damage to the spinal column, arthritis, or abnormal bone alignment. Different injuries in specific areas can cause different symptoms and the chance of recovery depends on what type of injury it is. There are many nerves throughout the spinal column and depending which nerves are affected during injury determines the seriousness of the patient’s condition and his or her risk factors. The higher the injury to the spinal cord, the bigger the impairment that can occur.
What Is Anterior Cord Syndrome?
Anterior cord syndrome is a spinal injury that affects both the motor and sensory pathways within the anterior (front) parts of the spinal cord. It is the premature death of tissue within the anterior of the spine due to a loss of oxygen in this region of the spinal cord tissue. As it affects the blood supply to the spine, anterior cord syndrome is known as a vascular disease of the spine. Patients suffering from anterior cord syndrome may feel some dull sensations below the level of the lesion, but cannot feel great sensations or use movement in any of the affected limbs below the injury. A loss of both temperature and pain threshold below the injury level is also a result of this syndrome, and this can be very dangerous. Depending on the level of injury, there may also be bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunctions.
Is Anterior Cord Syndrome Treatable?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for anterior cord syndrome at present. Support is usually given in helping the person to readjust to their life without the use of limbs with specialist wheelchairs and seating and emotional support for the affected person and their family. Many spinal cord injuries are treated with the help of many professional teams including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and recreational therapy. The outcomes of these teams are to ensure the activities of daily living can be met for the patient and help with a range of motion and mobility.
Living with any spinal injury can be very hard, especially anterior cord syndrome, which can have varying degrees of severity. There are many teams that are trained well in dealing with spinal injury patients and their families to assist in rebuilding their lives after a diagnosis is made. Physiotherapists can provide support in strengthening limbs that still have mobility, occupational therapists can help with equipment needed of the patient in order to live their life as freely as possible, and recreational therapy uses activity-based interventions to help the patient recover both physically and mentally.
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