Why Spinal Injuries (Even Minor Ones) Are Next To Impossible To Completely Fix.


Why Spinal Injuries (Even Minor Ones) Are Next To Impossible To Completely Fix.

In: Biology

The peripheral nervous system has an intrinsic ability for repair and regeneration, the central nervous system is, for the most part, incapable of self-repair and regeneration. There is currently no treatment for recovering human nerve function after injury to the central nervous system.

Because the spinal cord is made of tons of nerve fibers. And nerves either don’t repair themselves or do so very slowly. It’s likely that all over the body, but the spinal cord is like the highway where all nerves meet and go to the brain. You damage that highway, and nothing works right

Any central nervous system injury is very hard to recover from because neurons don’t get replaced for the most part and when connections are severed, it’s very hard to have some recovery. It can happen tho, some people depending on the injury can have a very good recovery.

Easily put, it’s like your spinal cord is a major series of highway between two cities : your brain and your body, and informations like body position, motricity and sucj are cars on the roads.. During an injury, imagine a bomb dropping from wherever the fuc it came from and exploding on one of the highway and completely blocking the road : The connection is severed, the information cannot pass between the two cities.

So you have two big problems :

1 -> The road is fucked. You need a new one. Theorically, it’s not that hard to rebuild.

2 -> The explosion provoked a massive fire (inflammation) that will spread everywhere on the remaining roads if not contained : That’s number 1 priority.

SO you have firemen (immune system) and their buddies police officers (glial cells, others cells in the brain than neurons, they are essential for maintaining a good neuronal environment) coming to the site of injury. The fireman try to put out the fire and the police officers completely block the road and tell every road maintenance guy to fuck off and to repair the road later.

But the situation is critical, and the fire is so big, that firemeen only have one option with the help of police officers, you need to condemn the road by building a massive sort of sarcophage around the highway that contains the fire. So that’s what they do, they clean up what they can clean up, build a sarcophage (glial scaring) and thus the fire do not spread but the road is completely condemned and cannot be repaired.

That’s essentially why spinal injuries suck. The road is never repaired in order to kill the fire in order to avoid spreading the injury. The road tho never gets repaired because the sarcophage cannot be dismantled.

That’s a necessary evil action of the body. And keep in mind that even though rebuilding a new road is possible, the road maintenance guys are not the brightest and could possibly rebuild something wrong instead of the original road, that’s also what your body tries to avoid by not repairing the injury.

Take one strand of overcooked spaghetti noodle. Break it. Now put it back together. Not so bad. That’s a nerve in your arm.

Now take a whole fistful of overcooked spaghetti noodles. Rip those in half. Now reconnect them to the correct noodles without mushing any other noodle up. And do it while still holding them in your fist. That’s your spine.

Essentially, in the spinal cord, a permanent “scab” forms on the end of the severed nerve still connected to the brain, so that’s why it’s so difficult to repair.

I just had a synthetic disc put in my neck between C5 and C6. The prognosis for this type of surgery is excellent. It feels better already. [Here is the how it works.] (https://www.cervicaldisc.com/about-mobi-c)

Imagine you work maintenance at a google server hall. Imagine there’s a room there where all the network cables go. Spanning across this room is the “main cable”. Let’s say this cable is 1 meter diamater, and consists of 25 000 network cables connecting computers with the servers. Now, undo the zip ties holding this bundle together so it isn’t so neat.

Okay, so one morning you learn that someone has gone into this room with a giant axe and just gone to town on the main cable. Your manager says *Nothing is working here! Could you go out there and put the cables back together?*

So you have a room with 25000 network cables(oh and they all have the same color), where 17000 of them have been chopped off. Not cleanly either, some are chopped in two places so that many pieces are lying on the floor unconnected to anything. How would you go about fixing this?

The answer is of course scrap all of it, buy a new cable and reconnect it all from scratch. IRL that means making a baby and killing yourself, basically, which maybe isn’t the ideal solution lol

Many of the nerves in the spinal cord are very, very long. A single neuron way up by your head can have an axon that goes all the way to the bottom of your spinal cord (not all of them are this long, but you get the idea).

If it’s axon gets cut in two, the parts can’t reattach. The neuron would have to regrow the long axon, which would require a ton of energy and resources, and time.

The neurons in the spinal cord (and brain) can’t grow back once they’re damaged for a few reasons:
1) they’re not designed to grow back very well. Scientists have found ways to encourage them to grow better, but not nearly well enough to cure spinal cord injuries.
2) When the spinal cord (or brain) is injured, a type of scar forms. This scar *might* actively block axons from re-growing (but this is a point of debate).
3) even if the axon grows some, it no longer has a way to know *where* it should go, or who it should connect to. So there’s a low chance of the neuron being able to do its job anymore.

Fun fact: other animals, such as fish and some reptiles/amphibians, can recover from spinal cord injuries. Scientists are studying how they do it!

A bunch of pretty little strings live in your back called nerves. They’re like the hair on your heads! These cool strings pull on your arms or legs and make them go DOO DOO-DOO DOO-DOO!!! But when the strings get cut you can’t go doo doo-doo doo-doo anymore. A spinal injury is when your back strings get cut.

Just my personal story for anyone here who might have back pain. I hurt my back lifting weights at the gym some 12 years ago. I was in pain for a month until my uncle told me to go his chiropractor. After a single session he had diagnosed me and fixed the pain. I had pulled a disc out place in the middle of my back. He popped it back into place after giving me ab electro heat massage. Best money I have ever spent.

Medical Student: Dr. Frankenstein?

Dr. Frankenstein: My name is “Fronkenshteen.”

Medical Student: Dr. “Fronkenschteen” isn’t it true that Darwin preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case until, by some extrordinary means, it actually began to move with voluntary motion?

Dr. Frankenstein: Are you speaking of the worm or the spaghetti?

[the class laughs]

Medical Student: Why, the worm, sir.

Dr. Frankenstein: Yes, I did read something of that incident when I was a student, but you have to remember that a worm… with very few exceptions… is not a human being.

Medical Student: But wasn’t that the whole basis of your grandfather’s work? The reanimation of dead tissue?

Dr. Frankenstein: My grandfather was a very sick man.

Medical Student: But as a “Fronkenshteen” aren’t you the least bit curious? Doesn’t the bringing to life what was once dead hold any interest for you?

Dr. Frankestein: You are talking about the non-sensical ravings of a lunatic mind; dead is dead!
Student: But look at what has been done with hearts and kidneys…

Dr. Frankenstein: [starting to shout] Hearts and kidneys are TINKER-TOYS!! I’m talking about the central nervous system!!

Student: But, sir…

Dr. Frankenstein: I am a scientist, not a philosopher! [picks up a scalpel] You have a better chance of re-animating this SCALPEL then you would of mending broken nervous tissue!

Student: But what about your grandfather’s work?

Dr. Frankenstein: MY GRANDFATHER’S WORK WAS DOO-DOO!!! I am not interested in death! The only thing that concerns me IS THE PRESERVATION OF LIFE!!!

[in his anger, Dr. Frankenstein stabs himself in the leg with the scalpel, grimaces, then crosses his legs]

Dr. Frankenstein: Class…is…dismissed!

Some of them really aren’t that impossible to fix. Depends on what spinal injury you are talking about, the location, and the severity.

I’ve broken my back twice. T3/T4 the first go around. 18 months later, L4, L5 (and pelvis). (Skydiving can take a toll). I didn’t even know I had broken T3 and 4 until I had my second mishap. The doctors looking at my MRI for my lower back injury asked when I broke my upper back. Surprise. Surprise.

Anyway, I got to meet some smart people along the way. It’s where I learned that a significant number of people who end up paralyzed don’t actually sever their spinal chords. A compression fracture of a vertebra (like what I did to my T3&4) can result in swelling around the spinal chord. The swelling can cut off blood flow resulting in nerve death and subsequent permanent paralysis. I was very fortunate that didn’t happen to me. (My T3/4 injury was caused by an extremely hard opening parachute. The second injury was an off-field landing resulting in a 30’ fall).

The lesson to take away is: if you’ve suffered a traumatic injury to your back, see a doctor! A simple steroid injection can mean the difference between being sore for a few weeks or never feeling anything again!

You’d be surprised how delicate the spinal column is. Or rather, how particular it’s integrity is. Seemingly minor damage can have detrimental long term effects, because even if the integrity of something like 1 disk or 1 vertebrae is slightly compromised, it throws everything off, and there’s no real fixing it, because if you try to reinforce a problem, it messes up the distribution of force and causes cascading damage downstream.

Because we can’t get over our religious moral BS and just allow stem cell treatment. Even when we no longer have to obtain stem cells from ethically questionable sources.

There are these special cells called astroglia that fill any holes in your central nervous system to keep toxins out. The cut nerve cells would probably like to regrow, but the cut gets packed with astroglia and they can’t grow.

Does this apply to spinal surgeries as well? Like cutting through bone to remove a tumor?

Did no one watch that episode of Louie?

“It’ll take another….20,000 years to get straight up. Until then, it’s gonna keep hurting.”

The spinal cord is communication channel with a lot of electric wires (e.g., electric signals transferred from one cell to the next). Now if you cut all the wires, and put them together by chance, probably most wires will be connected wrongly (e.g., nerve sprouting grows the nerves together wrongly).

Now spinal cord injures are fixable by computers. You attached a computer to the nerves and muscles and so overcome the injured signal path. This kind of operation is expensive and therefore is not done often. However, it is possible to walk again or drive a car with you hands/arms. The reason is that such injures are low compared to other human conditions, therefore the pharma companies have no economic interest.

In the future, this will be solvable and mass producible and the technology will constantly improve.