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Anterior Cord Syndrome - How to Cope with the Diagnosis

by - Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Being told you have a spinal cord injury is a devastating diagnosis. The majority of spinal cord injuries will result in huge changes to how you are able to function and go about your daily life. Anterior cord syndrome is one particularly tough diagnosis to deal with, as it is one of – if not the most severe - of all types of injuries.

If you have been diagnosed with anterior cord syndrome, also called Beck’s syndrome, it’s important you take the time to learn what you can about the injury and the possible treatments to find a way forward. Here is some information that may help you.

What is Anterior Cord Syndrome?

Anterior cord syndrome is an injury to the anterior parts of the person's spinal cord. This injury affects the sensory and motor pathways in the anterior parts. The person can feel crude sensation in areas that are still functioning. Detailed sensation and movement are not possible, however.

What Causes This Injury?

There are a number of things that can cause anterior cord syndrome, with the most common being:

· Trauma such as a direct stab

· External compressions such as a neoplastic mass, a herniated disc, or posterior osteophyte

· Aortic pathology such as aortic thrombosis, aortic aneurysm, aortic surgery

· Atherosclerosis

As described on echiropractor.org, no matter what caused the injury, the patient will have complete paralysis below the level of the lesion. As well, there can be a loss of pain and temperature below that level. There can also be sexual dysfunction, bowel issues, and bladder problems.

What Kind of Treatment Exists?

Unfortunately, with this type of injury, there is only a 10-20% chance of muscle recovery. Treatment typically involves medication to help with pain, rest, and sometimes surgery. Instead, there is a focus on supportive care, which helps patients to find a way to go about their daily life. Supportive care can include occupational therapy, physical therapy, recreational therapy, and speech therapy. The goal is to create some improvement in mobility, range of motion, and restoring their daily activities.

Working through the Emotions

A spinal cord injury results in more than just physical injuries; there is also a whole range of emotions that a person goes through. This can be just as difficult to work through as the physical aspect. It's very common for people to go through emotional stages of denial and disbelief, then sadness, on to anger, bargaining, and the final phase, which is acceptance.

Reaching that final stage can be almost impossible on your own, which is why it is important to talk to people and look into support groups. A counselor can also be quite helpful throughout the process.

It’s a Journey that Takes Time

Even though a spinal cord injury can take place in a mere blink of an eye, recovery and treatment is a journey that can take a lot of time and understanding. Learning all you can about the injury can help you to feel more empowered and less scared of the future.

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