Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms

Posted: November 10, 2021

Spinal cord injuries can be devastating, and they can lead to significant short and long-term disabilities that affect a person’s entire life. Here, we want to discuss the main symptoms that spinal cord injury victims and their family members can expect. We will touch on the short-term and immediate symptoms associated with these injuries as well as the long-term symptoms associated with spinal cord trauma.

The Severity of the Injury Matters When Examining Symptoms

If we look at information from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), we see that spinal cord injuries are typically summarized as paraplegia or quadriplegia, but there are certainly other levels of these injuries and the types of paralysis a person sustains. In some instances, spinal cord injury victims experience complete paralysis at the site below the injury. However, it is not uncommon for less severe spinal cord injuries to cause an individual to only experience partial paralysis or even no paralysis at all.

  • Quadriplegia means that a person’s entire body is affected from the neck down.
  • Paraplegia refers to a person experiencing paralysis in their lower limbs.
  • Other spinal cord injuries can leave a person with pain and numbness but not paralysis.

Spinal cord injuries can also be defined by looking at whether or not a person has sustained a complete or incomplete spinal cord injury. Those who sustain a “complete” spinal cord injury will have total paralysis below the site of the spinal trauma. If a person experiences an “incomplete” spinal cord injury, this means that they will typically retain some sort of sensory or motor functioning below the injury site.

We must point out that every single spinal cord injury case must be examined independently from other cases. Since no two spinal cord injuries are exactly alike, the symptoms one individual experiences could be completely different from what another individual experiences, even if they have very similar injuries in the same area of the spine.

Data available from the Mayo Clinic indicates that spinal cord injuries can affect an individual for the remainder of their life. This includes a person’s physical abilities as well as their emotional and psychological well-being.

Understanding Short- Versus Long-Term Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms

When properly examining spinal cord injury symptoms, we have to look at the difference between the immediate emergency symptoms a person experiences after the injury occurs from the long-term symptoms they will experience as they work towards recovery and for the rest of their lives.

Some of the emergency symptoms of a spinal cord injury include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Significant pain in the area of the spine affected
  • Tingling or numbness in the extremities below the injury
  • Issues with balance, weakness, or paralysis in various areas of the body
  • Trouble walking
  • Impaired breathing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control

In the days, weeks, months, and years that follow a spinal cord injury, survivors could experience a range of symptoms that could be either temporary or permanent. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Permanent or partial paralysis below the site of the injury
  • Permanent loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Reflex activities or spasms throughout the body
  • Complete loss of touch or other sensations
  • Trouble breathing, coughing, or clearing secretions from the lungs
  • Permanent loss of sexual function or fertility

Working With an Attorney

If you or somebody you care about has sustained a spinal cord injury caused by the negligence of another individual in Denver, you need to work with a skilled attorney immediately. A Denver spinal cord injury lawyer can use their resources to fully investigate the claim, uncover evidence to prove liability, and help negotiate with aggressive insurance carriers.