When a person becomes paralyzed, the diagnosis is from the point of injury on the spine and below, he or she loses the ability to feel or even move. While often we think of paralysis as just affected arms and legs, the truth is that a person may also lose feeling in and function of many other parts of the body, including the automatic responses that take care of basic bodily actions.
One such issue is referred to as incontinence. Because the sacral nerves are located at the bottom of the spine, the bladder and the gastrointestinal system do not always function properly after a spinal cord injury.
Incontinence and Gastrointestinal Issues Associated With Spinal Cord Injuries
People who suffer spinal cord injuries are likely to have difficulty managing incontinence, both with their bladder and bowels. Here are more specific problems related to bladder and gastrointestinal issues:
- Bladder Control. Because the body has lost control over sensations, people who are paralyzed will likely lose the ability to control when they urinate.
- Urinary Tract Infections. Bacteria form easily in urine. The longer that urine remains in the body, the more likely that bacterium will develop, causing a urinary tract infection (UTI). Additionally, people who have to be catheterized develop frequent UTIs and repeated UTIs often lead to bladder cancer.
- Neurogenic bowel. This condition may be present with a loss of bowel control, too many movements over the course of a day, or a lack of voiding for days at a time.
- Constipation. This is one of the most common issues for those paralyzed. Contrary to an incontinent bladder, when it's difficult to keep liquid inside, constipated bowels have difficulty contracting. Therefore, stool is difficult to expel. In some cases, the stool becomes impacted, and removal of it requires assistance.
- Hemorrhoids. Due to the strain of trying to expel stool, the veins in the anus are stressed, causing them to become swollen. Although drinking fluids will help minimize the chance of developing hemorrhoids, medication is likely the required treatment.
- Skin Sores. If someone has to wear diapers or pads, wounds can often develop on the skin exposed to the waste-soaked padding. If the skin is left untreated, the sores can get worse, causing infection.
Coping with these unwanted physical effects of paralysis is difficult. Let us help you get the needed compensation to help with your medical bills and other financial needs due to your loss of wages and independence. Please feel free to fill out a short form online to contact us, or call us at 703.691.5919 for a free consultation with an injury attorney experienced in handling spinal cord injury lawsuits.