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Living With a Spinal Cord Injury - Life With a Spinal Cord Injury

Grieving

Grief is one of the many challenges of adjusting to life after a spinal cord injury. It's your reaction to loss, and it affects you both emotionally and physically. But letting your emotions control you can result in unhealthy decisions and behavior, a longer rehab, and taking longer to adjust to your spinal cord injury (SCI). Feeling and naming your emotions, and talking to others about them, will help you feel more solid and in control.

Talking to a professional counselor who understands the challenges of living with an SCI can be very helpful during tough times.

Recommended Related to Brain & Nervous System

Apraxia

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Read the Apraxia article > >

For more information on the grieving process, see the topic Grief and Grieving.

Chronic pain

Pain in an SCI can be complicated and confusing. You may feel pain where you have feeling. But you may also feel pain in an area where otherwise you have no feeling. The pain may be severe at some times. But at other times it may disappear or bother you only a little.

The most common type of pain is neuropathic pain, caused by damage to the nervous system. Other types of pain include musculoskeletal pain (in the bones, muscles, and joints), and visceral pain (in the abdomen).

Don't ignore your pain. Talk to your doctor about it. He or she can help figure out the type of pain and how to manage it. Also, pain can signal a more serious problem.

The best treatment depends on the type of pain. But you will probably need to:

For more information on managing pain, see the topic Chronic Pain.

Strength and flexibility

Movement is what keeps your muscles strong and your joints flexible. So if you cannot move your muscles and joints easily, you may lose strength and some of your range of motion. This will make it harder to perform daily activities, such as getting dressed or moving between your wheelchair and other locations. With exercise, you can keep or improve your flexibility and reduce muscle spasticity. Exercise can also help prevent heart problems, diabetes, pressure sores, pneumonia, high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, and weight problems.

What exercises you can do will depend on what part of your spinal cord was injured. You may be able to do:

Taking part in sports is an excellent way to exercise. And there are often leagues or groups to promote wheelchair basketball and racing and other activities. Staying active provides both physical and emotional benefits.

Note: Exercise may trigger autonomic dysreflexia, which can cause sudden very high blood pressure and headaches. If not treated promptly and correctly, it may lead to seizures, stroke, and even death. These complications are rare, but it is important to know the symptoms and watch for them.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 07, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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