Even though slip-and-fall accidents are alarmingly common in the U.S., many fall-related injuries are minor. That is not always the case, however. According to the National Council on Aging, falls send roughly 3 million Americans to the emergency room every year, with 800,000 individuals requiring hospitalization.
Spinal myelopathy is one of the more serious injuries you might suffer in a slip-and-fall accident. This potentially life-limiting injury occurs when something, such as a vertebra or disk, compresses the spinal cord. Consequently, you should watch for signs of spinal myelopathy after any fall.
Having a healthy spinal cord is essential for everything you do, as your spinal cord transports important nerve signals from your brain throughout your body. Compression of your spinal cord can interrupt these nerve signals, causing you to experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty walking, lifting objects or performing tasks that require fine motor skills
- Pain in your neck, back, arms or legs
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Trouble balancing
- Tingling, numbness or weakness in your extremities
While these symptoms can appear immediately after a slip-and-fall accident, they also might take days or weeks to present themselves. As a result, you should not ignore anything that does not feel quite right.
Your next steps
If you suspect you might have spinal myelopathy, you should treat your situation as a medical emergency. Specifically, rather than taking a wait-and-see approach, you must go to the emergency room. Once there, you can expect doctors to use x-rays, MRIs and other diagnostic tools either to confirm or rule out spinal myelopathy.
Ultimately, provided you receive prompt and effective treatment, you are likely to have a decent probability of recovering from your fall-related spinal injury.