As explained by the Mayo Clinic, a spinal cord injury can cause serious effects all over the body. Even seemingly minor damage can cause lasting pain and discomfort, or lead to deficits in mobility.
When it comes to severe damage, emergency medical treatment is a must to prevent more serious effects and complications. Here is how to tell an injury requires immediate assistance.
Signs of a severe spinal cord injury
While all spinal cord injuries require assessment by a medical professional as soon as possible, severe injuries require immediate medical attention. Severe damage causes certain distinct symptoms, including bodily weakness or paralysis, problems breathing, loss of bladder and bowel control, numbness, extreme pain, problems walking, and impaired balance.
If these symptoms occur, do not move the person unless it is absolutely necessary, as this can worsen existing injuries. Keep their back and neck stabilized and contact emergency services immediately, while also providing first-aid the best you can.
Even with timely emergency medical care to address your symptoms, you may still experience major complications if the spinal cord injury is severe. Injuries that affect the muscles responsible for breathing lead to respiratory dysfunction. Some people also have a higher risk of blood clots if there are problems with the circulatory system.
Serious injuries can also impact bowel and bladder control. Along with pain and discomfort, you are also at risk of recurring urinary tract infections, kidney and bladder stones, as well as other issues.
Responsive medical care can reduce the risk of more serious spinal effects. However, severe injuries often require ongoing therapy and rehab to make a full or partial recovery.