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Rare spinal cord condition can be triggered by car accident

A spinal cord or head injury from a motor vehicle accident in Los Angeles can affect the victim in many ways. He or she can end up with chronic back or neck pain, or even suffer some form of paralysis. There are also less common, but equally debilitating, conditions, such as one that a man in another state is living with.

The man has syringomyelia, also known as SM. That is a rare disorder in which the spinal fluid cannot flow normally for some reason, perhaps due to back or head trauma, or congenital reasons. The National Center for Biotechnology Information notes on their website, updated in March 2019, that “Syringomyelia, at its core, is a disorder of an abnormal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) circulation.” The NCBI notes that even as of 2019, “…professionals do not completely understand the natural history of syringomyelia…” but “It is also understood that sudden jolting of the head, a prolonged bout of coughing may bring a sudden onset of symptoms…” The fluid is forced into the spinal cord, causing to form a cavity that harms the cord. (Source:

The result can range from no symptoms at all to chronic pain and even quadriplegia.

In one severe case, a man went from being in perfect health to spending most of the past two years in the hospital and rehab and nursing facilities. In his case, the SM was caused by a malformation of his skull that forced his brain to put pressure on his spinal cord.

One day, he began having severe headaches. The pain soon spread to his neck and back. Then he began having trouble with his arm and hips. An MRI led to a visit to a neurologist, who diagnosed his illness and told him he needed surgery immediately or was facing quadriplegia.

Since then, the man has endured three surgeries and a total of 245 days in the hospital. As of mid-September, he was hoping his doctors would soon give him permission to return home.

In cases like this one, SM is simply an unfortunate accident. But for others, their condition was triggered by spine or head trauma caused by a negligent driver in a car accident. People in that situation may be able to get compensation from the driver for their financial damages, such as medical bills.

Source: Carlsbad Current-Argus, “Sunday Living: Local man faced with disabling spinal cord disorder,” Valerie Cranston, Sept. 15, 2013


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