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What Causes Spinal Cord Injury?

The most common causes of spinal injuries include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents.
  • Traumatic injuries.
  • Falls.
  • Sports and recreation accidents.
  • Diseases, such as tumors, infections and inflammation of the spinal cord.
  • Vascular syndromes.

Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms and Effects

Spinal cord injuries can lead to a number of complications and effects. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Loss of movement (paralysis) below the injury
  • Loss of sensation—including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch—below the injury
  • Exaggerated reflexes or muscle spasms below the injury
  • Spasticity
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Potentially life-threatening over-activity of the autonomic nervous system (autonomic dysreflexia). Autonomic dysreflexia affects body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and breathing.
  • Trouble breathing, coughing or clearing mucus from the lungs
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Changes in sexual function and fertility