If you are in a car crash, one of the first actions you may take after the collision is to check yourself over for injuries. If you do not immediately notice any injuries, you may move on to the other tasks you must complete at the accident scene before you can go home. However, it may be prudent to schedule a medical examination as soon as possible after any collision, even if you think the crash did not injure you.

Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are one of the most severe types of injuries that a car accident can cause. However, the symptoms of this injury can be dangerously misleading.

Not all SCIs involve paralysis

If you are in a car crash and you notice your neck or back is twisted strangely, it may be obvious you have a SCI. If you lose the ability to control your body parts below an injury site, it may also be obvious that you have a SCI. However, SCIs have symptoms that you may not recognize right away.

Some less obvious symptoms of an SCI include:

  • Pressure in your neck, head or back
  • Tingling in your hands or feet
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Spasms
  • Altered sensation
  • Difficulty breathing

Symptoms may appear gradually

A SCI occurs when a traumatic injury bruises, partially tears or completely tears the spinal cord. It may also occur when the vertebrae, ligaments or disks of the spinal column are damaged.

Symptoms of a SCI can appear right away after the damage occurred. However, symptoms could also develop later after bleeding or swelling occurs around the injury. Bleeding, swelling and movement could all make a SCI more severe.

Thinking you are well when you actually have an injury can be especially dangerous because your injury will likely get worse before you recognize that you need to seek treatment. There is no way to reverse damage caused by a SCI, but there are ways to reduce complications and prevent further injury, which is why it is so important to identify an injury early.

It can be a hassle to visit your doctor after experiencing a car crash. However, a medical examination can help give you peace of mind. It can help you identify injuries that you may not have recognized, so you can begin appropriate treatments as soon as possible. It can also help you officially rule out injuries you did not receive.

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