Spinal stroke

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A spinal stroke arises if the blood supply to the spinal cord is disrupted. Once this occurs, the spinal cord is not supplied by oxygen and essential nutrients.


The tissues of the spinal cord might be damaged and nerve impulses could not be transmitted to the entire body. These nerve impulses are vital in controlling activities of the body as well as allowing the organs to function normally.

In most cases, a spinal stroke is brought about by a blockage in the blood vessels supplying blood to the spine such as a blood clot.

What are the signs?

The indications of a spinal stroke are based on the area affected in the spinal cord and degree of damage.

In most instances, the symptoms will arise abruptly but might be delayed for hours after a stroke occurs.

The usual symptoms include the following:

  • Abrupt and intense neck or back pain
  • Muscle weakness in the legs
  • Muscle spasms
  • Bladder and bowel control issues
  • Numbness
  • Sensation of a tight band around the torso
    Spinal stroke
    The indications of a spinal stroke are based on the area affected in the spinal cord and degree of damage.
  • Tingling sensations
  • Inability to feel cold or heat
  • Paralysis

Management of a spinal stroke

The treatment for a spinal stroke is focused on dealing with the cause and alleviating the symptoms such as:

  • For a blood clot, antiplatelet and anticoagulant drugs such as aspirin and warfarin are prescribed. These drugs can lessen the chances for another clot to form.
  • For high blood pressure, the doctor might prescribe a drug to lower the blood pressure.
  • For high cholesterol, a statin is given which lowers the blood pressure
  • If the individual loses sensation in certain body parts or becomes paralyzed, physical and occupational therapy is necessary to preserve the muscular function.
  • For bladder incontinence, a urinary catheter is required.
  • If the spinal stroke is due to a tumor, corticosteroids are given to lessen the swelling. In some cases, it is surgically removed.

For those who smoke, limit or cessation is suggested. The blood pressure and cholesterol levels can be improved by eating a balanced and healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

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