Parkridge Health System - December 02, 2019

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, approximately 450,000 Americans are living with a spinal cord injury.

There are two types of spinal cord injuries--complete and incomplete. Depending on the type of spinal cord injury you have, the symptoms and treatment can take a different path.

What are the symptoms of a spinal cord injury?

The following are symptoms a person might experience when suffering from a spinal cord injury:

  • Tingling in the extremities
  • Unconsciousness
  • Headache
  • Problems walking
  • Loss of control of the bladder or bowels
  • Inability to move the arms or legs
  • Feelings of spreading numbness
  • Pain, pressure and stiffness in the back or neck area
  • Signs of shock

There are a number of reasons a spinal cord injury occurs. Falls are one primary cause, but other accidents, such as motor vehicle accidents, can also lead to spinal trauma. In addition, certain medical conditions like polio or spina bifida can cause spinal cord injuries.

Knowing the cause and the conditions surrounding the spinal cord injury plays a key role in the diagnosis and treatment received for the injury.

How is a spinal cord injury diagnosed?

If a physician or spinal specialist believes you may have a spinal cord injury, he or she will conduct a physical exam and review the trauma that took place. From there, the physician will also recommend a few diagnostic tests that will help in the diagnosing of the spinal cord injury. These tests may include but are not limited to:

  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • X-ray

Once a spinal cord injury is diagnosed, a treatment plan is presented that best suits the patient and the injury. Treatment plans for spinal cord injuries may include a combination of medications, immobilization, surgery and even experimental treatments.

If you or a loved one have experienced a spinal cord injury, seek immediate medical attention. Spinal cord injuries can have serious impacts on the body, affecting a person's ability to walk and control his or her bladder, among other effects. Therefore, it is important that the injury is evaluated and treated as soon as possible to prevent further health issues from taking place.

Are you in need of spinal surgery? Contact the team at Parkridge Medical Center to learn more about the spinal conditions we treat.