On neurosurgery, Spinal surgery and healthy nervous system

By Dr. Thaer Darwish, Specialist Neurosurgeon from Prime Hospital 

The nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and cerebrovascular system, is one of the most fundamental parts of the body. As it literally controls a person’s actions, it goes without saying that taking care of this complex network of nerves and cells is highly critical.   

Neurological surgery (neurosurgery) is a special branch of medicine concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, and surgical treatment of disorders affecting the nervous system.  

Neurosurgery is often colloquially referred to as brain surgery although neurosurgeons operate more on the spine and peripheral nervous. There are specialized branches catering to special and difficult conditions and neurosurgeons are required to undergo additional higher fellowship training of one to two years to practice advanced specialization within this field.

Another Spine diseases such as degenerative diseases, fractures, infections, tumors, scoliosis, bleeding, and vascular malformations, are among the most common reasons people undergo the delicate neurosurgery process. are brain and skull injuries - including bleeding, skull fracture, tumors, brain edema and increased pressure after trauma, severe stroke, and vascular malformation - in addition to peripheral nerve disorders such as trauma with injury, stenosis with pressure on the nerve, and tumors.

For the spinal cord disorders, the most common causes are injuries, degenerative changes, infections, a blocked blood supply, and compression by a fractured bone or a tumor. Because of the way the spinal cord functions and is organized, damage to the cord often produces specific patterns of symptoms based on where the damage occurred. Scientific studies have shown that the ratio of female to male patients having spine diseases requiring surgery is about 3:1. In Germany, the numbers are much higher for women as opposed to men.

The following may occur in various patterns if suffering from a spine disease: weakness; loss of sensation such as the ability to feel a light touch, pain, temperature, or vibration or to sense where the arms and legs are; changes in reflexes; loss of bladder control or urinary incontinence; loss of bowel control or fecal incontinence; erectile dysfunction; diminished sweating; paralysis; and pain.

The recovery period varies and depends on the kind of surgery done. Nowadays, with the development of micro-neurosurgical techniques as well as endoscopic techniques, the recovery period has been shortened from weeks to a few days.  For example, the recovery period after most spine surgeries is now between 3 to 10 days, which include one to three days stay in the hospital and three to seven days recovery at home.

Brain disorders, on the other hand, include any conditions or disabilities that affect the brain, including conditions that are caused by illness, genetics, and traumatic injury. When your brain is damaged, it can affect many different things, including one’s memory, sensation, and even personality.

Brain injuries, in particular, are often caused by blunt trauma. Trauma can damage brain tissue, neurons, and nerves – affecting the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body. Hematomas; blood clots; contusions, or bruising of brain tissue; cerebral edema, or swelling inside the skull; concussions; and strokes are all considered brain injuries.

Symptoms of a brain injury include vomiting, nausea, speech difficulty, bleeding from the ear, numbness, paralysis, memory loss, and problems with concentration. A person with brain injury may later develop high blood pressure, a low heart rate, pupil dilation, and irregular breathing.

Depending on the type of injury, treatments may include medication, rehabilitation, or brain surgery. About half of people with severe brain injuries need surgery to remove or repair damaged tissue or to relieve the pressure. Many people with brain injuries need rehabilitation such as physical therapy, speech and language therapy, and psychiatry. People with minor brain injuries may not need any treatment beyond pain medication.

Furthermore, tumors and neurodegenerative disease can cause the brain and nerves to deteriorate over time. They can change a person’s personality, may cause confusion, and can also destroy the brain’s tissue and nerves.

Due to the delicate nature of the brain and spinal cord, it is crucial to keep them and the entire nervous system healthy. Thankfully, there are many simple ways to lowering the risks of developing related diseases.  Regular medical check-up and exercises are among them. Exercise strengthens the muscles that support the lower back and helps keep the spine flexible. Aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, and weight training are all good for the back.

Maintaining good and a healthy weight is also the key. An excess weight, for instance, puts more stress on the back and can contribute to developing symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis. Lastly, learning how to safely lift heavy objects, sleeping on a firm mattress and sitting in a chair that supports the natural curves of the back, and eating healthy food are part and parcel of having a healthy nervous system. posture