Doctor putting a support bandage down a woman's spine and around her back.

Will My Spinal Cord Injury Lead to Paralysis?

Understanding the Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries can happen due to sudden blows or cuts to the spine. Some spinal cord injuries are milder than others, but in the most severe cases, they can lead to the permanent loss of sensation, strength, and function to the lower or whole body. So, how does one know if a spinal cord injury can lead to paralysis? It depends on the severity of your injury.

What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

The spinal cord is the primary communicator between your brain and the rest of your body. When you take a traumatic blow to your spine, there's a chance that the fractured bones can injure the nerves in your spinal cord. The body can lose significant functions when this happens, meaning some nerves cannot communicate with your brain. A spinal cord injury can affect the following movements:

  • Sensations
  • Reflexes
  • Heart rate
  • Metabolism
  • Breathing

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

The most common spinal cord injuries come from motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, surgical complications, and severe falls. Nerve function loss occurs below the level of injury. So, if an injury is higher on the spinal cord, it can cause paralysis to most of the body affecting all limbs. An injury located on the lower part of the spinal cord may cause paralysis in the legs or lower body only.

Spinal cord injury cases can be divided into two categories: complete and incomplete.

  • Complete spinal cord injuries are permanent and cause total damage to the area affected. Complete injuries are caused by accidents that cut or sever nerves in the spinal cord, meaning signals cannot travel in the spinal cord, and no movement can occur.
  • Incomplete spinal cord injuries are more common and are due to partial damage within the spinal cord. Mobility is based on the area and severity of the injury. Unlike complete spinal injuries, some signals can travel in the spinal cord, and movement can occur, although unpredictable.

What Are the Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injury symptoms depend on the severity and location of the injury. The following issues can be symptoms of both a complete and incomplete spinal cord injury:

  • Severe pain in the neck or back
  • Decreased sensation in your limbs
  • Weakness in your limbs
  • Unusual lumps on the spine
  • Difficulty breathing

If you have suffered from any of the symptoms listed above after an accident, it's best to seek a medical professional as soon as possible to avoid worsening the injury and further complications.

How Do I Know If My Injury Will Lead to Paralysis?

The first step your doctor will take is to assess the severity of your injury. If the injury affects your breathing or heart functions, your case may be more severe and require immediate surgery. Your doctor will also examine your motor and sensory functions. The only way you can truly evaluate the severity of your injury is through specific image tests like CT scans, x-rays, and MRIs that can show your actual damage.

You should not hesitate to seek medical help as your injuries can worsen over time. If you have questions about your injury, contact your healthcare provider immediately to determine your next steps.

Are Spinal Cord Injuries Permanent?

According to Mayo Clinic, spinal cord damage is permanent. However, some treatments and therapies can help promote nerve cell regeneration and improve remaining nerve function after a spinal cord injury. It's critical for spinal cord injury patients to receive treatments to prevent further injuries and manage symptoms.

Contact Our New Mexico Personal Injury Attorneys For Help

Spinal cord injuries can pose life-long, devastating consequences on a victim's life. If you've suffered from a spinal cord injury, it is vital to contact a medical professional as soon as possible to assess your injury. If your accident happened due to another person's negligence, it is critical to seek a personal injury attorney to help you navigate the complex process of pursuing a spinal cord injury claim.

Our team of attorneys is here to help you in your time of need and support you during a difficult time. You can trust that the McGinn Montoya Love Curry & Sievers PA team has the knowledge and skill to help you obtain your compensation.

For more information, call our office at (505) 405-4441 or fill out this form on our website for a free consultation.


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We are dedicated to supporting families during the most challenging times, with a focus exclusively on cases involving catastrophic injuries or the loss of a loved one. Please reach out if you have any questions. We look forward to speaking with you.

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