Injuries to your spine are serious. Paralysis & death is not uncommon after SPINAL INJURIES.
I’m sticking my own neck out writing this! The purpose of this article, & the information in it, is to get more people safely to a hospital. Apply common sense and don’t take chances.
Not all spine injuries are dangerous, but Its impossible to know that without a hospital and xrays. Damien Martin below is one of the lucky ones.
WHEN SHOULD I SUSPECT A SPINAL INJURY?
There is no rule to this. You should always be suspicious. Your mate who’s been slammed on the sand with a broken collar bone/nose/wrist/concussion, or any distracting injury, is at high risk. Breaking your spine isn’t always as painful as you may expect. Another injury that IS painful can distract you from a spinal injury. Its well documented that 10 % of head injuries have a spinal injury aswel.
A missed spinal injury can have much more severe consequences than one that’s picked up and managed carefully. Paramedics are taught to assume that every trauma patient has a spinal injury.
The vast majority of spinal injuries are painful to some degree. Your mate rubbing their thumb down the boney points of your spine shouldn’t be painful, and if it is you should suspect a spinal injury. Obviously finding a step or lump in the spine is a clear indication that things aren’t as they should be!
Any of the following is a good indication of a spinal injury:
- pain anywhere along the spine
- pain spreading from the spine around to the front of your body
- weakness or paralysis
- loss of sensation
- An erection. Have you broken your back or are you just pleased to see me?! This is actually a really sensitive sign of a spinal cord injury.
You’d be unlucky to get a neck wound from surfing, but its not that unusual from car & bike accidents.
Bear in mind that your neck contains lots of important stuff! Don’t go poking around inside a deep wound trying to have a good clean. This should be done by a surgeon in a hospital. Clean the outside carefully but don’t go inside! Wounds that are clearly just on the surface can be cleaned normally. Read our article on how to do this first if you’re not confident.
Dressings- NEVER bandage around the neck. Swelling can increase pressure and close the airway.. Suffocation isn’t always obvious.
Author: Dr Dave Baglow
There is no substitution for being examined and treated by a medical professional. The intention of the articles on this website is to inform anyone who reads it of medical issues encountered on surf trips.
This website is designed to provide general practical information not specific medical advice.
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