Spinal Cord Injury Signs and Symptoms

Potential Signs and Symptoms

  • Severe pain and/or pressure in the neck, head, or back
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Numbness/tingling or lack of ability to feel sensations such as heat, cold, or touch
  • Loss of/or changes in normal bowel and bladder control/function
  • Weakness
  • Partial or complete loss of control over any part of the body
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Difficulty with walking
  • Unusual band-like sensations in the trunk: pain, pressure
  • Abnormal lumps or bumps on the head or spine.
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Exaggerated reflexes or muscle spasms
  • Sensitivity to stimuli
  • Changes in sexual function


  • Symptoms may occur immediately after an injury or gradually as changes such as bleeding & swelling take place around the spinal cord.
  • It is critical that treatment start as soon as possible after an injury.
  • Anyone with a potential spinal cord injury must be kept completely still until assessed by emergency personnel.
  • Anyone experiencing trauma to the head, neck or back should see a physician.

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