What Are Some Long-Term Complications of a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injuries are among the most painful and physically limiting you can suffer. An Atlanta car accident or even a slip and fall can leave you at risk for spinal cord injuries. Lots of accidents and injuries leave you with medical expenses and other unexpected financial losses. But spinal cord injuries can be particularly expensive and require long rehabilitation periods, especially because there are expenses related not only to your spine, but additional injuries which stem from it. Unfortunately, there are some long-term implications of spinal cord injuries.

Long-Term Implications of Spinal Cord Injuries

Long-term implications of spinal cord injuries include several different complications that affect various parts of your body. Pain can be a persistent long-term result of spinal cord injuries. That pain and discomfort manifests itself in a variety of different ways. The most common long-term complications include:

Respiratory Complications

Many people who suffer spinal cord injuries often have difficulty breathing. The extent of how difficult it is to breathe depends on how severe your spinal cord injury is. This difficulty of breathing does not only manifest itself in shortness of breath. In addition to shortness of breath, people with spinal cord injuries often experience the following:

  • Reduction in vital capacity, which is the greatest amount of air you can expel after taking a deep breath
  • Ineffective coughs
  • Excess oxygen cost of breathing, which is the rate our respiratory muscles consume oxygen

In addition to the above, many spinal cord injury victims suffer from sleep apnea. While not as common as above, sleep apnea is a serious condition, with often fatal results. Sleep apnea is when someone suddenly stops breathing for moments at a time while sleeping.

Cardiovascular Complications

Heart problems are a common result of spinal cord injuries as well. Specifically, the two heart conditions related to spinal cord injuries are:

  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Autonomic dysreflexia

Orthostatic Hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension is essentially a drop in blood pressure. And while you cannot feel your blood pressure drop, there are a few symptoms you can look out for.

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • A pale appearance
  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue

Autonomic dysreflexia

Autonomic dysreflexia is a serious medical emergency and is life-threatening. It is essentially the reverse of orthostatic hypotension in that it involves a sudden increase in blood pressure. The following are the associated symptoms:

  • Intense headaches
  • Profuse sweating
  • Redness in your face
  • Goosebumps
  • Stuffed nose
  • Blurred vision
  • Feelings of apprehension

Urinary Complications

Spinal cord injuries often result in urinary dysfunction. Specifically, it causes a bladder dysfunction called neurogenic bladder dysfunction. A central nervous system disease causes this ailment, which is often the result of spinal cord injuries.

Though most of us do not realize it, your central nervous system controls bladder functions. And damage to your spinal cord can directly impair your central nervous system. This often makes using the bathroom difficult. Many people suffering from spinal cord injuries experience trouble urinating. In fact, some accident victims may not be able to urinate at all.

Urinary issues are at best discomforting and in many cases debilitating. In addition to a physical ailment, it also hurts a person’s psychological well-being. Many people experiencing this use catheters to urinate. But there are available treatments which facilitate emptying the bladder.

Bowel Complications 

Your bladder functions are not the only thing spinal cord injuries affect. Many people who suffer spinal cord injuries experience bowel complications as well. The name of the ailment is neurogenic bowel dysfunction.

Like your urinary functions, your central nervous system also controls your bowel movements. As a result, your spinal cord injury could lead to a spinal cord disease that impairs your central nervous system’s ability to regulate bowel movements. This impairment causes the abdominal musculature to not function appropriately. This dysfunction often leads to constipation.

Like the urinary issues, bowel complications are discomforting and debilitating. And in addition to the physical impairment and discomfort, it has negative psychological effects.

Spasms

Spasms are one impairment you might expect from a spinal cord injury. It is the most common ailment people with spinal cord injuries report. According to the National Center of Biotechnology over two thirds of people with spinal cord injuries experience spasms. Spasms from spinal cord injuries often cause the following:

  • Hyperactive reflexes: This occurs when actions that usually cause a reflex cause a spasm instead.
  • Involuntary movements due to muscle contraction: This often results in sudden jerking motions. 

Each of these symptoms are painful and make you feel uncomfortable. In addition to general pain, spasms cause many other ailments. Those ailments include:

  • Functional impairment
  • Ulcers
  • Contracture in spine
  • Poor posture

There are a variety of medications available to people suffering from spasms related to spinal cord injuries. However, in some cases, you may require surgery.

Call An Atlanta Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

There are not many injuries more painful and limiting than spinal cord injuries. These injuries can demonstrably change your quality of life. This makes receiving the care you need important. Especially since the care you need may involve months and years of treatment as well as medication.

If you were involved in an accident, an Atlanta spinal cord injury lawyer may be able to help. The costs of recovering from a spinal cord injury are expensive, and you may need help in recovering the damages you need and deserve. S. Burke Law has represented clients with a variety of injuries in the past 20 years. We offer Atlanta personal injury victims free consultations. We want you to gather all the information you need before making any decisions. If you believe S. Burke Law can help you, feel free to give us a call. You can reach us at 404-842-7838.