It is often easy to tell if you have suffered a spinal cord injury. However, there are situations in which your spinal cord could be damaged, where the symptoms are less obvious. You may be experiencing some back or neck pain, but you are not sure why. If you have been in an accident, it is important to go to the doctor to get it checked out. This article was written in collaboration with Timothy Walton who is a law school graduate and a freelance blogger with a knack for self-sufficiency.
The area of your injury along your spinal cord, as well as how severe the damage is, will have an impact on your symptoms. For instance, if you have what is known as a “complete” injury to your spine, symptoms will include complete loss of control or feeling below the injury. With an “incomplete” injury, on the other hand, your sensory and motor function may remain intact.
These seven symptoms may indicate that you have damaged your spinal cord and that you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
1) Loss of Motor Function
Damage to the spinal cord can result in the loss of your ability to control your movements. If the damage is high on the spinal cord, you may lose motor function in both your arms and legs. If it is lower, only your legs may be affected. If you cannot move your arms or legs after injuring your back, you need to seek medical attention immediately. Permanent paralysis is unavoidable in some cases. In others, though, the loss of motor function may only be temporary.
Without proper medical attention, however, what could be temporary will almost certainly become permanent.
2) Loss of Sensation
There are many cases where the damage is not severe enough to cause the loss of motor function but still leaves you with a noticeable physical effect. If you notice that you have a numbing of the limbs, damage may have occurred. This damage may manifest as the inability to feel the heat, cold, or the touch of another person. Because a spinal injury can become worse over time, any loss of sensation in your extremities requires immediate medical attention.
3) Loss of Bladder or Bowel Control
Your spinal cord does not have direct control over your bladder or bowels. However, it is still possible for damage to the spinal cord to result in an inability to control either function. A loss of sensation can make it so that you are unaware of when you need to go. As a result, your body will carry out its natural operations without a conscious choice on your part.
4) Exaggerated Reflexes or Spasms
When you damage your spinal cord, messages from the brain cannot get to other parts of your body and vice versa. This breakdown in communication means that nerves below the injury may be receiving signals but they are unable to send those signals ahead to the brain. This results in reflex movements or spasms that cannot be controlled.
5) Changes in Sexual Function, Sensitivity, and Fertility
Approximately 95 percent of men who suffer a spinal cord injury experience a loss of sexual function. However, roughly 80 percent of these cases regain function within two years of the injury. In some cases, ejaculation may not be possible. It all depends on the severity of the damage done. Although this could make fertility more difficult, there are medical treatments available that may still allow for reproduction.
6) Pain or Intense Stinging Sensation
If you have intense stinging or pain near the site of your injury, it is possible you have damaged your spinal cord. A stinging sensation is a common sign of nerve damage. This damage could be solely to the endings, or it could trace all the way back to the spinal cord. Whichever the case, these symptoms require immediate medical attention.
7) Difficulty Breathing, Coughing, or Lung Secretions
It is possible a spinal cord injury could impact your breathing, depending on where the damage occurs. Even if you feel you are breathing normally, a lingering cough or the feeling you need to clear your lung of secretions often may be a sign you have injured your spine.
Always Check With a Doctor After an Injury
If you suspect you have suffered an injury to your back, you need to seek medical attention quickly. Failing to do so could have dire consequences. Spinal cord injuries are not by any means the only type of injury that requires medical attention. Whenever you sustain an injury, it is important to get a thorough examination from a doctor. Many different types of injuries can be difficult to detect yet have serious repercussions.
Failure to seek medical attention following an accident can result in lifelong health problems or even death. Beyond your health, failure to seek medical attention following an injury could hurt you legally and financially if you end up becoming involved in a legal battle as a result of your accident.
If your injury was caused by another party’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Personal injury lawsuits are designed to help you with medical bills, pain and suffering, equipment, and any other needs that will arise as you recover. It is important to get a proper medical examination immediately following your accident.
People are often involved in accidents where they do not immediately recognize that they have suffered an injury. As a result, they neglect to see a doctor until the injury manifests days or even weeks later. Doing so will greatly hurt any claim they may have had for damages. It is easy for an opposing attorney to cast doubt over the origin of your injury if you did not begin to receive treatment immediately.
Having a qualified medical professional give you a thorough examination following an accident is always the best and safest way to go. It is an easy step to take that offers you protection on several different fronts. Your first visit following an accident should always be to a doctor. Your next visit should be to a lawyer. Get more information on what a lawyer will do to help your case.