5 Signs of Recovery From a Spinal Cord Injury


Jan Reburiano

Spinal cord injuries (SCI) have a profound effect on the body as vital organs cannot communicate with the rest of your nervous system. You may lose control of your arms, legs, or other bodily functions, making you feel that hope is lost. Even so, there’s still signs of recovery from a spinal cord injury that may encourage you to keep going.

Some injuries like complete SCIs are incredibly difficult, or even impossible to recover from as there’s a full disconnect between the nerves and your body. This causes permanent paralysis to the affected area. However, there’s cases where people recover from severe spinal cord injuries through consistent physical therapy.

You may expect even more signs of recovery if you suffer from a mild or incomplete SCI. This spinal cord injury involves a partial disconnect between spinal cord nerves and the rest of the body. Nerve connections still exist, so there’s more room for spinal cord injury recovery. You may not have paralysis, but partially impaired movement.

A significant amount of spinal cord injuries are caused by preventable accidents like motor vehicle crashes or slip and falls. If you or a loved one were a victim of negligent behavior, causing your accident, you may qualify for compensation. Find a personal injury attorney to represent you so you can start your rehabilitation journey.

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1. Pain Below the Injured Area

A man experiencing increased pain in the spine.

With most injuries, pain is a symptom rather than a sign of recovery. For spinal cord injuries, however; any form of sensation shows there’s still neural pathways between your nerve roots and your body. Pain may be proof that your injury is an incomplete SCI rather than a complete SCI.

Chronic pain from an SCI may be difficult, but it shows there’s still room for recovery. Accident victims who feel pain may require occupational therapy to recover. Discuss further treatment options with your doctor because the type of pain involved depends on your spinal cord injury.

2. Muscle Spasticity Below the Injured Area

Muscle spasticity below the injured area after a spinal cord injury, a sign of recovery.

Muscle spasticity occurs when signals between the brain and the injured area are disrupted, causing involuntary muscle movements. Any form of muscle movement or spasticity where you were injured indicates further signs of recovery. The fact a mind-muscle connection exists at all shows hope for further recovery in the future.

When nerve connections between a muscle and the spinal cord are fully severed, the muscle becomes flaccid or droopy. There is no muscle control because no nerve signals can reach the body for it to tense up or move. Muscle spasticity indicates there are signals present, showing signs of recovery.

Muscle spasticity may cause chronic pain if worsened, requiring physical therapy and rehabilitation. Proper spinal cord injury exercises issued by your doctor play an essential role in regaining motor function after an accident.

3. Tingling Sensations

A foot showing tingling sensations, a sign of recovery after a spinal cord injury.

Another sign of spinal cord injury recovery you may not expect is the tingling sensation you may feel after your injury. It may feel like “pins and needles”, or it may come as a burning sensation.

Although concerning, a tingling sensation shows that your injured area is still connected to the brain via the spinal cord. This partial connection implies that you suffer from an incomplete spinal cord injury, boosting chances of physical recovery.

Talk to your doctor if the tingling sensation escalates or becomes too difficult to handle. They may recommend treatment options that vary depending on your injury and medical history.

Pursuing further treatment may add to the economic damages you qualify for. If you’re unsure of your legal options, talk to an attorney so you know what steps to take next.

4. Recovering Sensory Input

A hand touching a granite wall

A spinal cord injury may cut off motor function to important parts of your body like muscles or even bladder and bowel functions. Severe spinal cord injuries may even remove sensation permanently if the injury affects certain parts of the spine. Regaining sensory input is a clear sign of recovery from spinal cord injury.

5. Regained Muscle Control

A disabled person undergoing physical therapy after a spinal cord injury

A major milestone towards spinal cord injury recovery is regaining muscle control between the brain and the injured area. Once the neural pathways between your brain and body heal enough for you to move, you may begin physical therapy to reconnect your nervous system.

Regaining muscle control is so important to the spinal cord injury recovery process that the ASIA impairment scale measures healing through muscle movement. Completing the rehabilitation process may help prevent permanent paralysis while giving your nerve cells a chance to heal.

Spinal Shock May Mask Signs of Recovery

When your spine sustains heavy injury, it may undergo spinal shock, triggering an inflammatory response to heal itself. Spinal shock may induce a loss of motor function to certain areas of the body, but this is often temporary.

Spinal shock masks the signs of recovery from a spinal cord injury because the condition may last weeks or months. Symptoms mimic those of a complete SCI, often leading to misdiagnosis until signs of recovery start to show itself.

You may face similar symptoms of a complete SCI when under spinal shock. These include:

  • Reduced or lost motor functions to certain parts of the body
  • Pressure sores
  • Loss of bladder control

Once symptoms fade and sensory function starts to show itself, your doctor will better determine whether you suffer a permanent or incomplete injury.

Autonomic Dysreflexia

One symptom accident victims suffer from is autonomic dysreflexia (AD), or an overactive nervous system response to spinal cord pain. This may be a life-threatening condition that leads to severely high blood pressure levels, leading to severe headaches.

Spinal cord injury victims are the most at-risk for autonomic dysreflexia. Consult your doctor on recovery options like rehabilitation or occupational therapy to reduce symptoms. Don’t hesitate to call an attorney as well to discuss legal options while in recovery.

Safely Recover Your Damages With a Personal Injury Attorney

The rehabilitation process after a spinal cord injury may be expensive, costing thousands of dollars on-average. Medical bills and medication costs pile up quickly over time. Sudden oncoming economic damages may affect your physical and emotional health, further slowing down your recovery.

Your spinal cord injury may qualify for compensation if caused by the negligence of another party. Personal injury laws vary from state-to-state, and an attorney can help determine your chances for damages.

If you’re worried about the fee, know that most personal injury attorneys work under contingency fees. This means you may not have to pay up-front for their services until you get your settlement in the mail.

If you’re considering hiring an attorney, know that you must file your case before the statute of limitations closes. Filing before this deadline may get your case barred from the court.

If you need help finding an attorney in your state, LegalASAP has over 500+ law firms around the United States ready to assist you with your legal troubles. You deserve to recover from your spinal cord injury without the deadlines and statements that come from the legal process.

Jan Reburiano is a content writer and SEO specialist for law firms focusing on personal injury, disability, employment law, among other practices. He has written and edited numerous articles and created commercial spots for broadcasters that you can find in his LinkedIn. Jan currently lives in Los Angeles, California while writing for clients from around the United States.