How is a spinal cord injury diagnosed?
In an emergency, a healthcare provider makes sure a spinal cord injury isn’t affecting your breathing or heart rate. Next, they’ll assess how well your nerves are working. The provider checks:
- Motor function, or your ability to move parts of your body.
- Sensory function, or your ability to feel touch.
Certain imaging tests can help diagnose a spinal cord injury:
- CT scan, to see broken bones, blood clots or blood vessel damage.
- MRI, to see the spinal cord or soft tissues.
- X-ray, to show broken bones or dislocations (bones knocked out of place).
A healthcare provider may also use an electromyogram (EMG) to check electrical activity in muscles and nerve cells if there are co-exist peripheral nerve injury. (EMG is usually not necessary in a spinal cord injury.)