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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Diagnosing spinal injuries

Important

If you suspect that someone has a back or neck injury:

Symptoms of a spinal injury

Illustration showing a spinal cord and damage to a vertebra and the spinal cord by the vertebraThe symptoms depend on the level (position in the spinal cord) of the injury and are different for everyone.

Symptoms you might experience include:

Diagnosing a spinal injury

If you have an accident and doctors suspect you have a spinal cord injury, you will go to a hospital's emergency department.

Doctors will examine you. This will include checking your breathing, muscle tone, strength, reflexes and whether you can feel being touched.

You will then likely need X-rays, a CT scan or an MRI scan.

These tests will help doctors confirm your injury and the position of the injury in your spine.

On the next page: Treating spinal injuries

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created December 2023.

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