Of all the serious injuries you could suffer from, spinal injuries are among the worst. Spinal injuries range in severity, from causing minor discomfort to complete paralysis.
As you know, the spinal cord is how the brain sends signals throughout the body. When the signals can no longer get through to certain parts of your body, you'll suffer from paralysis. In situations where signals are limited or less frequent than normal, you may have weakness, pain or other sensations instead of full paralysis.
Damage to the spinal cord is often permanent
Although you may see improvement in your condition following an accident, the reality is that most spinal injuries are permanent. They are likely to affect your bodily functions below the point of injury. Additionally, your strength or feeling below the point of injury may also be affected.
What helps patients recover after a spinal injury?
A quick response to injury is the first step to helping patients. Swelling and inflammation is normal with any injury, but with a spinal cord injury, there is no place for the spinal cord to go. It's trapped inside the spinal column, which causes further damage as the swelling crushes the spinal cord.
Upon reaching a hospital, the first step is to reduce swelling. The sooner swelling is reduced, the better the patient's outcome could be. In cases where the spinal cord has been severed, surgery may be performed, but the likelihood of healing is low.
There are some emergency signs that you need care immediately for a spinal injury. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to the hospital right away:
- Extreme back pain or pressure in the neck, head or back
- A loss of bladder or bowel control
- Trouble walking
- Difficulty with balance
- Impaired breathing
- Tingling or numbness in the hands, feet, toes or fingers
Of course, if there is any visual sign of injury, such as a twisted neck or back, it's also important to call for emergency help.
Spinal cord injuries can be devastating from the moment they occur, but they can worsen quickly without appropriate medical care. If you're involved in a car crash or other accident, it's necessary to call 911 and have an emergency medical team come to the scene. Early interventions can reduce the severity of the injury overall in some cases, helping patients have a better potential outcome in the future.