Spinal injuries are amongst the most impactful injuries a human being can experience, next to head and traumatic brain injuries. The Spinal Injuries Association report that around 2,500 people per year suffer spinal cord injuries alone – to say nothing of secondary injuries and muscular issues that can also present. How do these injuries occur, and how might you recognize them?
How Might a Spinal Injury Occur?
Spinal injuries are extremely dangerous injuries to develop but can develop from a wide variety of circumstances and incidents. Some spinal injuries can occur from something as innocuous as falling onto one’s lower back on a hard surface – but the majority occur as a result of serious accidents.
Spinal injuries are a relatively common result of road traffic collisions, where drivers and passengers alike experience sudden deceleration and bodily torsion. These can lead to herniated discs, light vertebral fractures, and the much more commonplace minor injury known as whiplash.
Spinal injuries also occur as a result of falls from height. If someone lands on their feet or lower back after having fallen from a significant height, the impact can travel through the bones to the spinal column and cause fracturing and even nerve damage.
There are many cases in which a spinal injury occurs through no fault of the injured party. Poor workplace health and safety procedures might contribute to a worker falling from a height, or a paying customer at a horse stable might not receive proper training and care before being dropped or trampled. Either way, injuries like this can often result in spinal injury claims, wherein the physical, emotional, and financial costs incurred by the injury are somewhat offset through compensation.
What are Some Tell-Tale Symptoms of a Spinal Injury?
The term ‘spinal injury’ covers a wide field of potential injuries, with a sympathetically large number of potential symptoms to look out for. The symptoms that indicate cracked vertebrae will be somewhat different from the symptoms that suggest severe spinal cord injury.
Naturally, a tell-tale sign of spinal injury is the presence of localized pain in the back or spine. Difficulty breathing can also occur, as a result of pain linked to cracked or broken bones. There are more serious symptoms, though, that can indicate damage to the spinal cord and nervous system.
If the injured party reports numbness at any of their extremities, or pins and needles, this can suggest nerve damage. Likewise, if they have limited control over certain bodily functions – including those related to their bladder and sphincter – this could be a sign of spinal injury-induced paralysis.
If you have just witnessed an accident, and you suspect that someone has suffered a spinal injury during a said accident, caution is crucial. Moving the injured person could exacerbate their injury or cause further unnecessary, and even irreversible injury. Keep them still. And ensure their head and neck are supported.