If you experience a car crash, the first thing you should do is check yourself over for injuries. If you immediately notice that something is wrong, call 911 and request an ambulance. However, you may not always notice your injuries right away, so it is important to always schedule a medical examination as soon as possible after being involved in a crash.

One of the most severe injuries that may not display symptoms right away is a spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injuries involve damage to the spinal cord or to the ligaments, disks or vertebrae of the spinal column. Symptoms can appear right away, but they can also appear gradually as swelling or bleeding happens around the spinal cord.

What symptoms could appear with a spinal cord injury?

Spinal cord injuries are often associated with paralysis. However, paralysis is not the only symptom of a spinal cord injury.

In addition to paralysis, symptoms of a spinal cord injury can include:

  • An altered ability to feel hot, cold or touch
  • Loss of bladder or bowl control
  • Spasms
  • Extreme back pain
  • Pressure in your head, neck or back
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Difficulty breathing after an injury

Even without symptoms, medical care may be appropriate

If you are in a car crash and experience trauma to your head, neck or back, it may be safest to assume you have a spinal cord injury, and seek immediate medical help. As you wait for help, try to remain as still as possible to avoid making the injury any worse.

If you have recently been in a car crash and have not yet received a medical evaluation, it may be beneficial to schedule one as soon as possible. If you have a spinal cord injury, immediate treatment can be critical in minimizing the amount of complications and irreversible damage that occurs.

It may be helpful to take legal action if you received a spinal cord injury because of the reckless actions of another driver. Spinal cord injuries can be expensive to treat, but you may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses and other costs associated with your injury.