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Unconscious after hitting head. Sharp pain in ear and can feel a line on scalp. Is it linear skull fracture?

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Neurologist, Surgical
Practicing since : 1997
Answered : 65 Questions
2 weeks ago I hit the back of my head on concrete and was briefly unconscious. The wound probably needed stitches but as I don't have insurance, I went inside & slept for two days (I know that is the last thing I should have done but OMG that's ALL I could do!). In the days after that I would have sharp pain in my right ear that felt like someone jabbing a pencil from the inside of my ear toward the outside. (no blood ever) My pinkies and ring fingers on both hands felt numb for about a week but was more pronounced on the left side. The strength in that hand also felt week (but is progressively better). I'm pretty sure that I've fractured my skull as I can feel a difference in depth along a line on my scalp from the middle of the back of my head down toward the back of my right ear. I've read that a linear skull fracture is medically insignificant however, my new symptom is exhibited when I tilt my neck toward my chest. On both sides of my body it starts to tingle and intensifies the lower I put my chin down. (fluid pressure on nerves?) I have recently gotten back on my feet after filing for bankruptcy after another medical related issue. (fungal lung pneumonia) I work hard & have an 8 yr old son that I would like to continue to feed & watch grow up. Is what I have described to you life threatening?

Thank you for your time.
XXXXXXX Gillette
Posted Mon, 25 Jun 2012 in Stroke
Answered by Dr. Shivakumar S. Kupanur 3 hours later


Thanks for posting your query.

Relax. I have gone through your history and I do not find this condition life threatening.

1. Tingling sensation in your fingers and feeling of weakness in the same hand is suggestive of cervical spine injury or disc problem. It is not related to skull fracture. X-ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the cervical spine is an useful test to know the status of cervical spine.

2. To confirm the fracture skull, Computed Tomography (CT) scan of brain is a must. Only with CT scan, we can comment about skull fracture. But as you’re conscious and oriented, it is less likely that you have a significant fracture which would need medical attention.

I understand your concern and difficulties to seek medical help. Based on your description, my suggestions are

- Avoid forward bending.
- Keep the neck in neutral position, preferably with cervical collar.
- Avoid lifting weights or strenuous physical exercise.
- Consult your physician to rule out cervical spine injuries. Your physician can guide you in getting X-ray or MRI of cervical spine.

Hope I have been helpful to triage your complaints. Let me know if you have any other queries.

Wish you good health.

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