The spinal cord is a bundled collection of nerves connecting the brain to the rest of the nervous system, thereby controlling many functions of the body. It is protected by the spinal vertebrae and several layers of tissue.
Trauma to this sensitive part of the central nervous system can lead to permanent disability. Prompt medical attention is crucial in reducing complications of a spinal cord injury, so it’s essential to understand the signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury.
What Are the Signs of Spinal Cord Injury?
Symptoms of a severe back injury include the following:
Pain and Swelling
Moments after spine trauma, the damaged tissue releases chemicals that signal inflammation. Fluid rushes to the injured area, leading to localized swelling. However, the swelling can compress the surrounding tissues, cause more pain, and press on the delicate spinal cord.
Be wary of any intense pain or swelling on any part of the spine, including the back of the neck and head area. The lack of external wounds does not necessarily mean that there is no spinal cord injury. It can take time for other symptoms to appear, so seek medical help immediately if you suspect an injury.
A telltale sign of an injury to the spine is the loss of motor control. Nerve impulses from the brain must travel through the spinal cord to reach the muscles, so any malfunction of the spinal cord can impede nerve conduction.
While paralysis might be immediately apparent, it can take some time to appear in some cases. This is because nerve injury continues to develop even after the traumatic event.
Paralysis comes in varying degrees. If the nerve signals are only partially blocked by tissue damage, the patient might still be able to move the affected limbs to some degree. More severe cases have complete paralysis where no muscular movement is possible below the neck.
The spinal cord also conveys sensory information from the body back to the brain. Hence, sensory changes after an accident may be an emergency symptom of a spinal cord injury. The patient might feel tingling sensations on their fingers and toes. A complete injury can result in the total loss of sensation in the extremities and the lower portions of the trunk.
A common way to test for sensory problems is to pinch the person’s toes and look for a response. If the patient is conscious but doesn’t respond, there might be a spinal cord injury.
Spinal Cord Injury Treatment in Southeast Michigan
Emergency signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury include pain, paralysis, numbness, and loss of control. Be wary if any of these signs are present after a traumatic event, like after a fall or a car accident.
Based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, the experienced orthopedic medical team at Ahlgren Spine is devoted to providing outstanding treatment for spinal injuries. We also have satellite locations in Royal Oak and Bad Axe to serve clients throughout our region.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ahlgren, contact our friendly staff today by calling us at (248) 215-8080 or by filling out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to serving you.