What complications result from spinal cord injuries?

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Some car accidents cause catastrophic health problems, such as a spinal cord injury. Commonly, people think of paralysis as the main result of an SCI. While this is a frequent outcome, SCIs also create a variety of other challenges for injury patients.

Secondary complications from an SCI range in severity. Still, any of them can have a significant impact on how someone lives and enjoys life.

Continual pain

Chronic pain is a common and debilitating result of an SCI. Nerve damage and musculoskeletal problems arising from the injury can lead to persistent discomfort. Fortunately, treatment options provide relief for some patients, including medicine and meditation therapies.

Pressure sores

Pressure injuries are a serious concern for those with an SCI. These occur when prolonged pressure on certain areas of the body disrupts blood flow, eventually leading to tissue damage and skin breakdown.

According to the United Spinal Association, up to 80% of individuals with an SCI will develop a pressure sore during their lifetime, with 30% experiencing multiple occurrences. Preventive measures like regular skin checks and weight shifting can reduce the risk of pressure injuries.

Muscle spasms

Spasticity, the involuntary tightening or contracting of muscles, affects 65% to 78% of people with an SCI. Disruption of normal signal transmission from the spinal cord to the brain causes muscle misfires, resulting in twitches, jerks or muscle stiffness. Management options include medications and targeted stretching exercises.

Respiratory problems

Depending on the location and extent of the spinal cord injury, individuals can experience respiratory issues. High cervical injuries may lead to diaphragm dysfunction, necessitating interventions like a tracheotomy or ventilator use. Lumbar region injuries could affect abdominal and intercostal muscles, impacting breathing. Regular exercise is an option to help preserve or improve lung function.

While SCIs vary, many patients manage to improve their overall quality of life with effective management and preventive measures.