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How to know you have a spinal cord injury

Injuries don’t always present themselves in the immediate aftermath of an incident, such as a workplace accident or car crash. Sometimes, it’s not until hours, days, or even weeks later, when you’re in discomfort or pain, that you realize something serious is going on.

When you start experiencing worrying symptoms like these below, either immediately or in the days after an accident, it might be time to talk to medical professionals about the possibility of a spinal cord injury.

Severe Back Pain

Severe back pain is a spinal cord injury symptom that many Injury Lawyers San Antonio hear about time and time again. This pain is often described as neuropathic or neurogenic, caused by abnormal communication between your damaged nerves and brain.

Many people who have experienced spinal cord injuries report burning, aching, tight, and squeezing neuropathic pain that can be difficult to manage without medical intervention.

Paralysis

After a spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis, you might experience numbness in the affected muscles, weakness, muscle loss, and stiffness.

While technology has come a long way in spinal cord injury treatment, and some people recover from their paralysis, severe spinal cord injuries can result in permanent paralysis.

Permanent paralysis can sometimes mean sufferers are lifelong wheelchair users and might be at risk of impact to other bodily functions, such as breathing and heart rate.

Loss of Bladder or Bowel Control

Many people picture mobility issues and significant pain and discomfort when they think of spinal cord injuries. However, bladder or bowel control problems can sometimes be associated with these injuries.

If a spinal cord injury is severe enough, it has the potential to interrupt communication between the spinal cord nerves that control your bladder and bowel functions and your brain, resulting in incontinence. This is referred to as neurogenic bladder and neurogenic bowel in the medical world.

Signs of a neurogenic bladder or bowel can vary but often include:

  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Inability to empty the bladder
  • Constipation
  • A change in urinary and bowel frequency
  • Urinary tract infections
  • A lack of bowel movements

The severity of your spinal cord injury can determine your management methods. For example, if you have incomplete spinal cord damage that still allows for hand and arm motor control, you might opt for self-catheterization to manage bladder emptying.

Difficulty Breathing

Some people become aware that they’ve experienced a spinal cord injury after an incident when they have trouble breathing. Sometimes, the muscles you need for breathing, including your diaphragm, intercostal, and abdominal muscles, weaken.

As we need to cough to remove secretions and bacteria from our lungs, weakness in this area might result in an increased risk of infections, such as pneumonia. According to studies, respiratory impairment after a spinal cord injury is more severe in high cervical injuries and is characterized by a weak cough and low lung volumes.

The symptoms and after-effects associated with spinal cord injuries can be wide-ranging, and not all of them will present in the immediate moments after an incident, like a car crash or workplace accident. If you can relate to any of these symptoms above or have experienced any injuries after an incident, seek medical care without delay.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska at Pexels


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