Nerve regeneration and bladder function after an incomplete spinal cord injury
I've been searching and reading a lot about nerve regeneration and bladder funtion following a spinal cord injury and I'm not really finding what I'm looking for. I sustained an L-1 burst fracture in a sledding accident a year ago which left me with an incomplete SCI. I have been through extensive rehabilitation at local places as well as at the Shepherd Center. I had emergency surgery 24 hours after the accident to decompress the spinal cord and stabilize the vertebrae. Rods were inserted from T-12 - L-2. The bone never healed so after 7 months I had a second back surgery to put in smaller hardware, a complete laminotomy of L-1 (with hopes of opening the canal to allow more room the cord and possibly more regeneration) and a fusion from T-12 - L-2. I'm still in PT for gait training, strengthening, etc. but I'm becoming more and more frustrated because of the amount of time that has gone by. I guess I'm wondering what the odds of more nerve regeneration are after a certain amount of time (for me 1 year), if there are any meds that can help them regenerate and if a reflexive bladder can still gain normal function? I currently do IC's but I sometimes have bladder spasms and incontinence. This is extrememly frustrating because I can walk but not very fast and when I feel the urge to go I can't hold it for very long (and my gait is terrible due to atrophied gastroc muscles, I cannot catch myself if I lean forward, cant stand on my toes, etc. which leads to poor balance...) I also have neuropothy from about the knee down. My feet are ALWAYS cold and tingly, even with neurontin, they're also over-senstive to cold. I can only move my toes on my left foot a little but its more than I could at first. My injury was worse on the left side and I have more weakness on that side. My groin area on the left side is also still numb. Any information would be extrememly helpful! Thank you!
About all I can offer is swelling and inflammation from your past surgeries could still be figuring into this. You could use a CT scan or MRI to see if you still have some nerve root entrapment (since your spinal cord, albeit injured, was not severed). The physician looking after you on this issue should perhaps try steroid shots or pills to perhaps bring down any lingering swelling, if it shows up on the scan. Your muscles CAN be strengthened even if they are not responding to signals to pull tight and release, which the physical therapy people shoud be able to help you with this. Other than that, the only other comfort I can offer is thank heavens you survived the injury, even tho your quality of life has decidedly been affected negatively. Keep working at your recovery, get a second opinion, get a scan, ask for anti-inflammatories, shots, whatever it takes to get you in a little better shape than you're in.
I will tell you this, neuropathy is a strange thing, I have it from a bad back, which numbness and swelling pain was worsened by chemo-induced neuropathy, and after a year, most of my feeling has returned from the chemo, and I take Lyrica (cousin to Neurontin). I basically stayed off my feet on hard surfaces as much as possible, altho i continued to walk in my yard or on softer surfaces like ground, propping them up on a pillow whilst stretched out and relaxing, and massaged my feet, pushing hard on the soles all over. I made myself drink extra water.
As for you walking slow, all I can tell you is I'm 60 years old, and I walk slow now, whereas just ten years ago I was studying ju-jitsu, VERY frustrating, but I suppose with age this can be expected, so I sort of fit right in with my aging community. But YOU, you may not be in that realm yet, but I can tell you that nobody really notices how slow you go... my husband is as strong as an ox and yet he has ALWAYS walked very slowly and deliberately, just a habit. So, not to worry on the slow thing, and if your back really does finally improve, and if you can get those muscles to tighten up better (I wonder if they can apply electricity or something), maybe your speed will pick up. I really do not know the solutions, I'm just trying to comfort you and offer sympathy since I have similar problems with my back and feet.
I have been 21/2 years after my injury, I had multiple levels if injury due to an infection trying to eat my spinal cord and column, laminectomies 3-5 vertebrae sections from up and down the spinal column cervical Thoracic and lumbar later a cervical fission c3-4, & c4-5. Initially paralyzed from the neck down All that to say I'm still getting better with marked improvement. from wheel chair to starting to walk 8 mths ( not pretty but walking) walking better now with more strength though still not perfect gate. So many things have come back. I IC & still struggle with bladder a few drips but mostly I have trouble releasing, sometimes can never a big full stream but sensation is getting better so Hope but I'm not back to peeing on my own yet.
Here's more hope for you Some guys that have been through this said 3-5 years they kept improving until now no on could tell they ever had an issue Keep being thankful to God for what you have and keep asking for more... never give up never give in, keep working and pressing. by the time this posts you may have already surpassed where you were before the accident, but if it takes 10, 15 years or more we'll keep moving forward
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