Advertisement

What are symptoms of a spinal cord injury?

Symptoms of a spinal cord injury depend on what part of the spinal cord is damaged. If the spinal cord injury is to the neck or upper back, symptoms can include problems with breathing, loss of movement, loss of feeling in the arms and legs, and problems using the toilet. If the damage is to the lower back, symptoms can include problems moving and feeling the legs and problems using the toilet.

Symptoms of spinal cord injury include tingling and weakness in the upper and/or lower body. In severe injuries, the patient may be completely numb and paralyzed. Symptoms will happen below the injury site on both sides of the body. This means that when the spinal cord injury is high in the neck, symptoms will occur in the arms and legs. When the injury is where the neck joins the trunk, symptoms may only happen in the legs. The patient may stop breathing if the injury is at the level of the first through fifth vertebrae.

This answer provided for NATA by the University of Alabama Athletic Training Education Program.

Pain, numbness, weakness, and loss of fine motor function can all be consequences of spinal cord compression.

The symptoms of a spinal cord injury can vary greatly. Symptoms depend on the point of injury and the severity of the injury. If the spinal cord is partially injured, it is considered to be an incomplete injury. A severely injured spinal cord is a complete injury with serious symptoms.

Symptoms of a spinal cord injury may be mild with pain, reduced muscle strength, and reduced sensation in the limbs. Or the symptoms can be extremely serious, including no muscle tone and no sensation in the limbs.

With a spinal cord injury, there can be breathing difficulties, loss of bowel and bladder control, spasticity, paralysis, and weakness. Today there is a better understanding of how to treat spinal injuries with complete immobilization immediately. More people are living with spinal cord injuries and greater numbers have incomplete injuries with less severe symptoms.

Continue Learning about Spinal Cord Injuries

Why is it necessary to quit smoking before spine surgery?
Dr. Hooman M. Melamed, MDDr. Hooman M. Melamed, MD
It is of paramount importance to quit smoking before any surgery, especially spine surgery. There ar...
More Answers
Who will be on my healthcare team if I have a spinal cord injury?
Jumo HealthJumo Health
A healthcare team responsible for helping those with spinal cord injuries includes doctors, nurses, ...
More Answers
Who Controls the Exso Exoskeleton?
Who Controls the Exso Exoskeleton?
Walking Again with the Help of an Exoskeleton
Walking Again with the Help of an Exoskeleton

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.