Potential Long-Term Complications of Spinal Cord Injuries

After experiencing a spinal cord injury, other parts of the body experience complications that can develop years after the initial injury. A degraded quality of life and complications can arise. Long-term care and treatment are necessary but costly.

When you need a Portland spinal cord injury laywer to fight for you, Paulson Colletti Trial Attorneys PC is ready to step in and aggressively pursue the maximum compensation so that you do not suffer unnecessarily because of financial hardship. Mental and physical healing is challenging. We offer you the time to heal while advocating relentlessly for you when you need it most.

Spinal Cord Injury Complications

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) estimates that in the United States, approximately 450,000 people live with a spinal cord injury (SCI). And 17,000 new spinal cord injuries occur annually. Complications resulting from spinal cord injuries classify as local or systemic.

Local Complications

Complications affecting targeted areas of the body are termed local complications. We discuss these disorders below.


Muscle contractions can exist long-term and cause uncontrollable rigidity or tenseness. Between 65-78% of individuals with a spinal cord injury experience some spasticity. Following a SCI, signals that normally flow through the spinal cord and reach the brain become interrupted, causing them to return to the motor cell producing spasms.


This chronic condition developing in the spinal cord is defined by a cyst or fluid-filled chamber called a syrinx that can grow over time and constrict or destroy surrounding nerve tissue. Symptoms may include:

  • Decreased sensation to heat or cold because of numbness
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Scoliosis

Neuropathic Joint Arthropathy

Also, appearing years after an injury, the joints may slowly become destroyed or develop deformities. Loss of control of the body’s trunk can occur, neurological functions may become minimized, and movements that cause clicking sounds in the joints can begin.

Systemic Complications

Systemic complications from a SCI impact entire systems in the body. These disorders can develop soon after an injury or years later, similar to local complications.

Respiratory Diseases

Muscles in the chest and abdomen can become compromised following a SCI, leading to respiratory issues such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Fluid may also build around the lungs as a result of weakened muscles. Respiratory illnesses are the prime contributor to death in SCI patients.

Cardiovascular Symptoms

Dizziness, temporary unconsciousness, and weakness occur when there is a loss of autonomic control over the cardiovascular system and blood pressure drops abnormally low. Life-threatening increases in blood pressure may also occur. The risk of developing blood clots increases.

Bladder and Bowel Complications

SCIs cause bladder and bowel dysfunctions that produce issues emptying and controlling both bodily systems. An increased risk of infections occurs due to waste retention. Messages that normally travel through the spinal cord to the brain delivering information about these systems become disrupted.

Pressure Sores

Limited mobility in changing positions can result in sores on the body that may be difficult to treat. These sores or ulcers are a breakdown in the skin’s tissue and can be deadly when they progress in severity.

Compensation for the Care You Deserve

Oregon and Washington state residents suffering from serious traumas such as spinal cord injuries have formidable advocates in Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC. Your care and treatment are paramount, and we will fight to secure your compensation when negligent actions have impacted your life. A free case evaluation allows our personal injury lawyer in Portland to determine how to provide optimal service during an overwhelming time.