What Complications Can Occur with a Spinal Cord Injury?

Even seemingly minor spinal cord injuries can have lasting consequences, such as chronic pain and decreased mobility. More serious injuries carry a risk of more serious complications, some of which carry life-threatening consequences.

Autonomic Dysreflexia

If your body experiences discomfort below the spinal injury that you don’t perceive, your blood pressure will increase until the discomfort is resolved. This is known as autonomic dysreflexia, which is most likely when the nerves within the midsection of spinal cord are injured.

Dangerous blood pressure increases can lead to nausea, facial redness, headache, decreased heart rate, and nasal congestion. Your doctor can provide instructions on how naturally decrease blood pressure during episodes, such as by removing tight clothing, relieving your bladder or bowel, or treating pressure sores.

Pulmonary Embolism

Insufficient blood flow in the lower extremities increases the risk of developing a damaging blood clot. Should a blood clot develop and break free, it can lead to an emergency medical situation if it travels to the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary embolism. Anticoagulant medications are often provided to reduce blood clot risk when mobility is limited.

Bladder and Bowl Dysfunction

If the spinal cord can’t effectively communicate with the bladder and bowel, dysfunction can occur. Some people experience incontinence, meaning bladder and bowel function can’t be properly controlled. A person may need to visit the bathroom more frequently or experience and inability to expel urine and waste. Depending on the severity of bladder and bowel dysfunction, doctors may recommend therapy, surgery, or medication.


The spinal cord also sends messages to the muscles that control the lungs for proper breathing. When communication is disrupted, breathing complications are more likely to occur. Pneumonia is one possible complication where an infection in the lungs causes air sacs to become inflamed and restrict breathing.

Complex spinal cord injuries require ongoing medical care and therapy to prevent complications. When an injury results from another person’s careless actions, costs for medical treatments and lost wages can be recovered by the victims.

Hinkle Law Offices, LLC has experience with major injuries involving the spinal cord and head. We also have an extensive understanding of the law as it pertains to car accidents, slips and falls, bicycle collisions, and more. Schedule a consultation today by calling (505) 883-4357 or contact us for more information.