A spinal cord injury is damage to the spine that interrupts nerve signaling from the brain to the parts of the body below the level of the injury. A spinal cord injury is a medical emergency and can be life threatening.
Exceptional neurological care is available at Dignity Health, including expert diagnosis of spinal cord injury symptoms in Arizona. Learn more about our comprehensive neurology services at each state-of-the-art location:
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Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury depend on the location of the injury in the spine and if it is complete or incomplete. With a complete injury, nerve impulses are completely blocked from reaching below the injury. With an incomplete injury, some nerve signaling continues. There remains some movement and sensation below the level of the injury.
Signs and symptoms of a complete injury include paralysis (i)nability to move below the level of the injury. There is also likely no sensation below the injury.
Signs and symptoms of an incomplete injury may include:
- Pain or pressure in the back or neck
- Weakness in certain parts of the body
- Difficulty walking or keeping balance
- Numbness extending to the trunk and extremities
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Difficulty breathing
- Odd positioning of the neck or back (after a fall)
A spinal cord injury may seem mild, but could become more severe with movement or time. A spinal cord injury is an emergency and requires immediate medical care to prevent further damage.
Someone with a spinal injury cord should only be moved by emergency services personnel, unless there is a danger to life.
Diagnosing a Spinal Cord Injury at Dignity Health
If you think someone has a spinal cord injury, call 911. Do not move the person unless there is a risk for further injury or death.
When the person arrives at the hospital, our doctors may use these tests to determine if there is a spinal cord injury:
- X-rays to look for obvious damage to the spinal cord
- Computed tomography (CT) scan, which provides more detailed, 3-D images of the spine
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses magnetic forces, rather than X-rays, and can show blood clots and other soft tissue damage in addition to the spine itself
- Myelogram, an X-ray of the spine taken after dye (c)ontrast is injected to provide a clearer view of the area
Proper response and early diagnosis of a spinal cord injury may reduce the severity of injury and improve the long-term outcome.
Dignity Health provides expert diagnosis of spinal cord injury symptoms in Arizona.