What Are the Long-Term Effects of an Untreated Spinal Injury?

Spinal cord injuries are serious and often catastrophic injuries that can affect a victim for life. The spine is a critical body part that carries messages back and forth between the body and the brain. Spinal injuries don’t only cause serious back pain but can interrupt the signaling system and cause permanent disability, as well. Immediate medical care is imperative for any type of spinal injury. Otherwise, the untreated injury can have long-term effects.

Chronic Pain

The spinal cord is surrounded by bundles of nerves. Injuries to the back and spine can damage these nerves, leading to issues with the central nervous system that cause unrelenting chronic pain. Chronic pain affects a large number of spinal cord injury victims and is resistant to treatment, as the mechanisms of the pain remain unknown. Chronic pain can be excruciating and debilitating, interfering with the victim’s ability to enjoy daily activities and complete the essential tasks of their jobs.

Although chronic pain may result from irreversible nerve damage, it is often connected to a treatable outcome of the spinal cord injury, such as muscle spasms or overuse of the arms and shoulders. Pain may also be connected to a bulging spinal cord disk or muscle strain. Prompt medical care can treat these injuries and issues, alleviating the victim’s pain. Failing to see a doctor, however, can increase the risk of long-term pain and suffering.

Time Taken Off of Work

An untreated spinal injury can escalate into a more serious back or spine injury that forces the victim to take time away from work. While professional medical care can treat the injury and help the victim make a full recovery, delaying care can exacerbate the injury and interfere with the victim’s ability to work.

A victim with a back, neck or spine injury may have to take days or weeks off of work due to chronic pain, stiffness or immobility. Unlike a victim who seeks medical treatment, these issues may take longer to dissipate – or remain indefinitely. The victim will not receive the medical care he or she needs, such as a back brace or physical therapy. This can draw out recovery or even make it impossible to ever fully recover.

Further Injury

An untreated spinal cord injury can trigger additional injuries in the back and throughout the body. A bulging or herniated disk, for example, can press on a nerve and lead to pain or nerve damage from the misplaced disk. Back pain also forces many victims to use surrounding muscles differently to protect the injured part. This can lead to injuries and muscle pain in the arms, shoulders, neck or elsewhere. Immediate medical care, on the other hand, can diagnose and treat a spinal cord injury from the very beginning, helping to prevent further injury or muscle pain.

Emotional Effects

A spinal cord injury affects a victim physically and emotionally. Back injuries can cause trouble sleeping, sleep deprivation related to chronic pain, depression, anxiety and stress disorders. These issues can also arise from the trauma of the car accident in general. Without professional care, emotional distress connected to the accident can negatively impact a victim’s life far into the future.

Reduced Quality of Life

Overall, an untreated spine injury can lead to greater pain and suffering, emotional distress, and physical injuries. It can cause more permanent damage to the muscles or nerves in the back, leading to chronic pain or disability. An untreated spinal cord injury can reduce a victim’s overall quality and enjoyment of life. It is critical to see a doctor immediately after any type of injury to the back, neck or spinal cord. Professional help can resolve serious issues, relieve symptoms and ensure a faster recovery.

If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident in Kansas City, contact a spine injury lawyer today.



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