The spinal cord is a vital part of the central nervous system, responsible for transmitting messages between the brain and the rest of the body. When this area faces an injury, the consequences can be severe and life-altering.
Recognizing the signs of a serious spinal cord injury is important for seeking immediate medical attention and minimizing long-term damage.
Loss of sensation or movement
There are around 17,810 new instances of spinal cord trauma every year in America. Many of those people may notice the sudden loss of sensation or movement in specific body parts as one of their first symptoms.
This problem can manifest as numbness, tingling or even complete paralysis. The affected area typically depends on the location and severity of the injury.
Difficulty breathing or coughing
A spinal cord injury, particularly in the upper regions of the spine, can affect the muscles responsible for breathing and coughing. If you notice difficulty in breathing or coughing after a fall or injury, it may be an indicator of a serious spinal cord injury.
Trouble with bladder or bowel control
Serious injuries to your spine can disrupt the communication between the brain and the muscles controlling the bladder and bowels. If someone suddenly loses control over these bodily functions, it is a significant warning sign of a spinal cord injury.
Intense pain in the neck or back
Experiencing intense pain or pressure in the neck or back following an accident or trauma is a strong indicator of a spinal cord injury. It is important not to ignore these symptoms, as they can signify potential damage to the spinal cord. Even if the pain subsides, seeking medical attention is still necessary, as the injury may not be immediately evident.
Difficulty walking or balancing
These types of injuries can impact a person’s ability to walk or maintain balance. If someone has trouble walking, stumbles frequently or experiences unexplained clumsiness after an accident, it could be a sign of spinal cord damage. Timely medical intervention is crucial to assess the extent of the injury and prevent further harm.
Changes in reflexes
An altered or absent reflex response, such as the knee jerk reflex, can indicate a spinal cord injury. While this may not always be immediately noticeable, it is an important sign that you should not overlook.
Early intervention and appropriate treatment can significantly improve the chances of recovery and overall quality of life for individuals with spinal cord injuries. Understanding the signs of this problem can help you realize you have a spinal cord injury.