Spinal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SSH) is an uncommon occurrence responsible for <1% of all cases of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).
We present the case of a 53-year-old man who presented to the emergency department (ED) with acute onset of “tearing” back pain that began during activity, and who was diagnosed with an SSH that ultimately progressed to spinal cord compression.
Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?
Although uncommon, the consequences of SSH are potentially devastating, yet reversible, making awareness of this condition critical. Several rare yet potentially devastating causes of acute back pain are deserving of consideration when approaching back pain in the ED setting; SSH is among them. Pain that is described as “tearing” or that is unresponsive to ordinary analgesic dosages should prompt strong consideration of vascular or other serious pathology, including arterial dissection or spinal cord compression.
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Published online: January 21, 2015
Accepted: November 16, 2014
Received in revised form: October 16, 2014
Received: September 5, 2014
© 2015 Elsevier Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.