How do I know if I have a spine injury?

spine injury

The spinal cord is one of the most important parts of our body. Is it made up of a thick bundle of nerves that act as an extension of our brain, carrying messages from it to the rest of our body. It is these messages that enable us to feel pain and pressure, move around and control our vital functions such as our bladder and bowel, our blood pressure and even our breathing. If the spinal cord becomes damaged in any way, the communication between our brain and the rest of our body is disrupted, inhibiting our ability to control our movements and bodily functions. It can also cause us to experience changes in sensation from tingling and numbness to intense pain.

A spine cord injury is damage to the spinal cord that causes temporary or permanent changes in the way that it functions. Although some spinal cord injuries can cause fairly mild symptoms, others can have serious consequences for the patient.

Common causes of spinal cord injuries

The spinal cord is well protected by the bones that make our spine. However, accidents and injuries can still occur. Some of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Trauma experienced as a result of a car accident, particularly when that trauma is to the neck, back, face or chest area.

  • Falling from a height.

  • Severe twisting of the mid-section of the torso.

  • Diving into water that is too shallow and making contact with the bottom.

  • Head or spinal injuries as a result of sporting activity.

  • Electrical accidents.

  • Violent attacks, such as being stabbed or shot.

Symptoms of a spine injury

Spine injuries can affect people in different ways. Nevertheless, there are some symptoms of this type of injury which are more common than others. Some key indicators that you may be suffering from a spinal cord injury can include the following:

  • Loss of movement in the limbs or other extremities

  • Loss or altered sensations, including the ability to feel touch, cold and heat

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

  • Exaggerated reflexes or spasms

  • Difficulty breathing or coughing

  • Pain and other discomforts

  • Changes in sexual sensitivity and function (erectile dysfunction is common in men with spine injuries)

  • A difficulty with balance and walking

  • Paralysis

Some of these symptoms indicate that emergency medical treatment is required. For this reason, it is recommended that if you have any of these symptoms, you get checked out by your doctor as soon as possible.

Treatment for spine injuries

Sometimes it may be fairly obvious that a patient is suffering from a spinal cord injury. However, in other instances, it will be necessary for your doctor to ask you to go through a series of tests to rule out any other potential causes of your symptoms. These may include x-rays, MRIs and CT scans. These will help your doctor and spine specialist understand what is triggering your symptoms and what treatments may help you to manage them.

Regrettably, there is currently no way to reverse damage to the spinal cord although research continues to be carried out into the possibility of doing so in the future. Instead, the focus of your doctors will be on preventing any further damage from occurring and giving you the tools needed to manage your condition and give you the best chance at maintaining a happy, fulfilling life. This could include the use of medications, physical therapy, and electrical stimulation. Your specialist will also be able to advise you on lifestyle changes that may be beneficial to your condition and boost your overall health and wellbeing. In some cases, surgery will be the best option and this will be discussed with you at your consultation.

If you would like more information on spine injuries, or if you would like to schedule an appointment to speak to our experienced spinal surgery team, please telephone our offices. Dr. Rovner's advanced surgical techniques help patients make a swift return to the active lifestyle they love. Contact our office today to learn more.