Spinal Cord Injury 101: Know the Symptoms
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Spinal Cord Injury 101: Know the Symptoms

Monday, November 20, 2017By Nina Shapirshteyn

You’ve been waiting for weeks to go hiking with your best friend at your favorite spot. You wake up early and join her to enjoy nature. As you get to the top, you take in the beautiful sunrise and birds chirping. You are so enthralled with the scene you don’t realize the sound of rocks slipping out from under your friend and she falls to a ledge beneath you. You scramble down to her side as she moans in agony. Her leg is bent underneath her. You scan your memory for what to do in this situation. You remember from a lifeguard class you took that it’s best not to move her as she could have injured her spine. You call for help and wait anxiously for emergency technicians to arrive. Luckily, you made the right choice.

The spinal cord contains a bundle of nerves that run from the brain down the vertebral column. These nerves send electrical signals to the brain from the body. A spinal cord injury can result from any trauma to the spinal cord, usually a sudden blow that fractures or dislocates the discs of bone in the spine, known as vertebrae. The fracturing or dislocation of discs, bones or ligaments can tear the spinal cord and crush nerves. A spinal cord injury can prevent motor signals from communicating to the muscles or it can keep vital nerve information from the brain.

Immediately following an injury it can be difficult to determine whether the spinal cord has been damaged. Emergency symptoms can include some or all of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Twisted back or neck;
  • Tingling or loss of feeling in hands or feet;
  • Severe pain or pressure in the head, neck or back;
  • Paralysis in parts of the body or any lack of coordination;
  • Bladder or bowel control difficulties; and
  • Trouble balancing or walking.

If someone is experiencing any of these symptoms they should seek emergency medical treatment immediately. Some of these symptoms could indicate other medical conditions which is why it’s important to treat traumas as if they include a spinal cord injury to be on the safe side.

More long-term symptoms of a spinal cord injury can include:

  • pain or stinging due to nerve damage;
  • difficulty breathing;
  • loss of movement;
  • loss of sense of touch or temperature;
  • spasms or exaggerated reflexes; and
  • coughing or clearing the throat.

In the weeks after an injury, continued inflammation and fluid buildup near or in the spinal cord can cause even more extensive damage. This is why it is important to check with a doctor if you have any symptoms that could point to spinal cord injury.

The attorneys at the Alexander Law Group, LLP have years of experience representing clients who have been injured through recreation sports and other accidents. If you or a loved one have been injured, contact us online or call 888.777.1776 for a free case consultation.

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