Your spinal cord is responsible for relaying messages from the brain to the rest of your body and back, so it’s easy to see how even a small disturbance can be problematic. If your spinal cord takes a direct hit, trauma can lead to what’s known as a spinal cord contusion. These contusions can be almost asymptomatic, or they can be cause for serious concern. We explain what signs may signify a serious spinal contusion below.
What Is A Spinal Contusion?
Before we jump into the signs of a significant spinal contusion, let’s take a closer look at the injury itself. A spinal contusion, like a normal bruise, can cause bleeding from nearby blood vessels, localized inflammation and swelling or pooling of blood. However, if this swelling disrupts normal nerve function, it can result in anything from numbness, a tingling sensation or even cardiovascular issues. That being said, not all contusions result in nerve or spinal cord compression, and a lot depends on the severity of the contusion and the location of the injury on the spine.
Symptoms Of Serious Spinal Contusions
Some spinal contusions can be managed with rest and monitoring, especially if they are only causing minor discomfort and pain. However, if you notice one or more of these symptoms, set up an appointment with a neurologist to have the injury assessed and a care plan developed.
Signs of a serious spinal cord contusion include:
- Loss of bladder or bowel function.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Muscle spasticity.
- Difficult speaking or understanding speech.
- Inability to focus or lack of concentration.
- Memory loss.
- Spikes or drops in blood pressure or heart rate.
- Loss of sensation or movement below the injury site (spinal shock).
Due to the way contusions cause compression, these symptoms may not develop right away after suffering spinal trauma. These symptoms can develop hours or even days after the initial injury, so don’t assume that you are in the clear if you don’t experience any serious symptoms right away.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, or you want to rule out the possibility of a serious spinal injury, your best bet is to receive a professional diagnosis from a spine specialist. Dr. Chang has a number of of the latest diagnostic tools in his arsenal, and he can help determine the extent of your injury as well as the best ways to manage and treat it. If you’ve suffered a spinal contusion and want answers, contact his office today.