Spinal trauma is defined as damage to the spinal cord, spinal column, or the bones that surround the spinal cord. The main causes of spinal trauma are vehicle and bicycle accidents, falls, sports injuries, diving accidents, and assaults. Many of these injuries occur in the cervical spine, or neck. Traumas to the spinal column and spinal cord are a major cause of disability.
In general, the higher the location of injury to the spinal cord, the more severe the symptoms. An incomplete injury indicates that the person still has some degree of movement or feeling below the injury. A complete injury means that there is no movement or feeling below the injury.
Red Flag Signs of a Spinal Injury
The following are some of the signs that indicate a person may have suffered a spinal trauma:
- Extreme back pain or pressure in the head, neck, or back
- Weakness, issues with coordination, or paralysis in any part of the body
- Difficulties with walking or balance
- Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the extremities
- A twisted neck or back following an accident
- Difficulty breathing following an accident or injury
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
What to do when you suspect spinal trauma
The injured person needs medical evaluation as soon as possible. The time elapsed between the injury and medical treatment greatly impacts outcomes and recovery.
- Don’t move the injured person unless they are in immediate danger. This can cause serious complications.
- Call 911 and wait for medical help to arrive. Always suspect a spinal injury if the person is unconscious.
- Keep the person still. Stabilize the head and neck in a neutral position until medical help arrives.
Once the patient arrives at the hospital, they will undergo diagnostic tests to determine the extent of their injuries. Imaging tests may include x-rays, an MRI, and a CT scan. The tests enable physicians to see exactly where the injury has occurred. Additional testing may be done a few days after the injury, when some of the swelling has subsided. The patient will likely be seen by a group of specialists who treat spinal injuries.
Atlanta Brain and Spine Care
Atlanta Brain and Spine Care is metro Atlanta’s leading neurosurgical practice. We have provided compassionate care to patients since 2003 in our five convenient metro locations. Our neurosurgeons offer patients access to some of the world’s most advanced surgical treatments and procedures. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with a spine specialist.