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What're the complications of spinal cord injury?

Aside from a loss of sensation and movement, patients with a spinal cord injury may also experience bladder and bowel complications. Spinal cord injuries often affect fertility in males. If the spinal cord injury is high, for example C-1 or C-2, the

patient may need a respirator or diaphragmatic pacemaker in order to breathe properly.

Other complications that may result from a spinal cord injury are an inability to regulate blood pressure, low blood pressure, reduced control of body temperature, an inability to sweat that occurs below the level of injury, and chronic pain. Patients with spinal injuries also have an increased susceptibility to respiratory disease and autonomic dysreflexia.

Autonomic dysreflexia is primarily the result of the body being unable to control the blood pressure. This is especially a concern for patients who have a spinal cord injury at T-6 or above. The signal responsible for "telling" the blood vessels to relax cannot be processed because of the injury. With autonomic dysreflexia, these blood vessels intermittently remain constricted, thus elevating the blood pressure and possibly leading to life threatening complications such as stroke. External methods of lowering the blood pressure to a safe level are often necessary.

Men who have sustained spinal cord injury may be unable to achieve an erection or ejaculate. Sperm formation may be abnormal too, reducing fertility. Fertility and the ability to achieve orgasm are less impaired for women. Women may still be able to become pregnant and deliver vaginally with proper medical care.

More information on spinal cord injury

What is spinal cord injury? - Spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage to the nerves within the spinal canal. Most SCI's are caused by trauma to the vertebral column.
What is the spinal cord? - The spinal cord is a part of the vertebrate nervous system that is enclosed in and protected by the vertebral column.
What causes spinal cord injury? - Spinal cord injury occurs from either a trauma (injury) or from a disease or infection to the neural tissue within the vertebral column.
What're the complications of spinal cord injury? - Aside from a loss of sensation and movement, patients with a spinal cord injury may also experience bladder and bowel complications.
What're the symptoms of spinal cord injury? - Symptoms of spinal cord injury depend upon the severity and location of the injury. Complications of injuries include deep vein thrombosis.
How is spinal cord injury diagnosed? - Diagnostic tests such as x-rays, computed tomography scans (CT scans), and magnetic resonance imaging scans of the spinal area can help diagnosis.
What's the treatment for spinal cord injury? - Rehabilitation after spinal cord injury seeks to prevent complications, promote recovery, and make the most of remaining function.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005