Neurogenic Shock Causes Treatment

Neurogenic Shock : Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Neurogenic shock is not a condition that you can ignore. It is the life-threatening condition that leads to a severe complication. The irregular blood circulation in the body is the main cause of the problem. It mostly occurs after severe trauma, injury or the disruption to the spine. It is the condition that can prove fatal as it can cause drastic changes in the body. The main complication due to neurogenic shock is the drastic drop in blood pressure. Therefore, it results in the irreversible damage to the body tissues and organs. The effects of the shock are fatal and can lead to death. So, you need to know more information about the problem.

What Is Neurogenic Shock?

Neurogenic Shock Neurogenic shock can cause severe damage to the body. It can cause a loss of muscle tone. The lack of muscle usage is the reason behind the issue. The most common problem that results in the shock is the partial or complete spinal cord lesion. The effects of the neurogenic shock can last for several days, weeks or even months. People with the condition can drop the pressure levels in your body, which is severe. The decrease in heart rate is also seen among people affected by the problem. The severity of the issue depends on the level of the spinal cord lesion. So, severe symptoms mean a higher level of spinal cord problem.

The neurogenic shock is like the anaphylactic or septic shock. So, it is distributive in nature. It means that the blood distribution is abnormal in the smallest blood vessels in the body. It results in the deprivation of oxygen to meet the metabolic needs of the body.

Difference Between Neurogenic Shock And Spinal Shock

The neurogenic shock is different from spinal shock. You can confuse it one another. But, the spinal shock is only a temporary situation. So, it can last only for a single day or for two days. In the spinal shock, people only suffer temporary sensory or motor tone. The neurogenic shock is treated by giving medications. It stabilizes the blood pressure and the heart rate. Therefore, taking medications at the right time can prevent severe damage. It helps to revive the patient and prevent tissue damage. Good medical assistance can also stabilize the body temperature to reverse the bad effects.

Neurogenic Shock Symptoms

Neurogenic shock is the result of the loss in the sympathetic stimulation in your body. The sympathetic stimulation is responsible for the performance of the blood vessels. It is responsible for overseeing the maintenance of the blood vessel tones. Therefore, it results in the loss of the vascular tone that causes the sudden relaxation of blood vessels. It leads to decrease in blood pressure and peripheral vascular resistance. The low blood pressure can lead to other signs and symptoms in the body like:

  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Blank Stares
  • Vomiting
  • Pale Skin
  • Increased Sweating

Symptoms In Severe Cases

In some people, the shock is severe. So, the affected people can experience several other symptoms like:

Difficulty In Breathing

The neurogenic shock can lead to breathing difficulty. So, it restricts you from drawing a complete breath. Hence, it can cause severe discomfort.

Chest Pain

The shock can cause immense pain including in the chest region. So, you can experience severe chest pain as a result of the issue.


You can express severe weakness as the shock can cause irregular blood circulation. The deprivation of oxygenated blood to the organs result in overall weakness.

Slower Heart Rhythm

Bradycardia is another primary sign of neurogenic shock. Nerve injury causes relaxation of the blood vessels walls resulting in decreased heart rate. Bradycardia in spinal cord injury is also found to be worsened by hypoxia or decreased blood supply.

Faint Pulse

You can experience extreme pain with the neurogenic shock. It is due to overexciting the parasympathetic nervous system. So, it decreases heart rate, which in turn can lower the pulse. The parasympathetic nervous system in your body is responsible for the heart and pulse rate decrease.



The discoloration of fingers and lips can occur due to the issue. The bluish color in the lips and fingers is due to the decrease in body temperature.


The loss of sympathetic tone due to neurogenic shock can reduce the body temperature considerably. It is known as hypothermia. The decrease in the core circulation due to the disruption of the sympathetic nervous system. So, it results in a decrease in boy temperature as a result of excessive heat loss. It makes the affected people feel very cold. The whole body is cold to touch. But, they may have warm limbs.

If left untreated, neurogenic shock can cause irreversible tissue damage and death. If you begin experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Causes Of Neurogenic Shock

The most common reason for the neurogenic shock is the injury or trauma to the spinal cord. The trauma can result in damage to the sympathetic nervous system. So, your body loses the stimulation and function of the sympathetic nervous system. Therefore, the body loses its physical function due to the damage. The problem leads to a lowering of blood pressure, weakening of heartbeat, and breathing restriction. Subsequently, it affects the brain, spinal cord, and tissues. The damage of the sympathetic nervous system occurs due to the following:

Car Accidents

Car accidents can cause whiplash. So, it results in the trauma to the back and neck. The trauma results in the spinal cord injury or damage to the nervous system. It can affect the spinal cord in a negative manner resulting in the neurogenic shock.

Sports Injury

Sports Injury

Contact sports like football, hockey, wrestling, rugby can result in catastrophic injuries to the spinal cord. Other non-contact sports like diving, surfing, skiing, track and field, powerlifting, etc. can also result in the injuries to the C-spine. Therefore, it results in complications.

Gunshot Wound

A gunshot wound is not limited to military persons today. Civilians can also experience the issue. The gunshot wound can cause mortality and morbidity. The surgery to retrieve the bullet can cause damage to the nervous system. So, it results in the neurogenic shock.

Guillain-Barre syndrome

It is a rare syndrome that can eventually paralyze the whole body. Your body’s immune systems attack its own nerves. So, it causes weakness in your body. Guillain-Barre syndrome also causes a tingling sensation in the extremities. The sensations can spread to your other body parts resulting in paralysis. It also results in the neurogenic shock in some rare cases.

Transverse myelitis

Transverse myelitis
Source: Cedars Sinai

The condition is caused by the inflammation of one or both sides of the spinal cord. The neurological disorder can damage the myelin. The inflammation damages the nerve cell fiber insulation. So, the transverse myelitis leads to the interruption messages from the spinal cord. The messages are sent throughout the body by the spinal cord. Hence, the disruption of the messages can cause neurogenic shock.

Side Effects Of Medications

The autonomic nervous system in your body along with the endocrine system regulates bodily function. It is responsible for the integration of the body functions like breathing. Some medications that you use can affect the nervous system. Therefore, it negatively affects the automatic body function resulting in the problem.

Spinal Cord Anesthesia

Spinal Cord Anesthesia

Anesthesia is administered for surgical procedures to eliminate the pain sensation. The improper or poor administration of the anesthesia can cause side effects. It can lead to infection at the spine. Therefore, it leads to spinal or nerve damage at the particular site.

Neurogenic Shock Diagnosis

The doctors tend to tread carefully while diagnosing the neurogenic shock. It is important to determine the surrounding that leads to the shock to make the proper diagnosis. The medical professional will perform the following to make an exact diagnosis.

Physical Examination

The acute traumatic situation leading to the condition can help make a proper diagnosis. The identification of the spinal cord trauma makes the diagnosis easier. It is also helpful in ruling out the hemorrhagic shock. The physical examination is conducted to monitor the following:

  • The decrease in the blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Slow heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Cold body (poikilothermia)
  • Warm and dry extremities
  • Decreased cardiac output

Monitoring the conditions can help determine the severity of the injury that leads to the neurogenic shock.

CT scan

The CT scan is a sophisticated imaging technology that uses x-ray images. It shows the doctor the pictures of the body. The doctors can opt for the CT scan to see the images of the injured spinal cord. It helps to determine the severity of the issues. So, the doctors can find the damage caused due to the trauma. It also reveals any internal bleeding. Hence, depending on the results, the treatment is adopted.

MRI Scan

For a clearer image of the internal structure of the body, your doctor can suggest MRI. It gives a more precise image that helps check the internal damage more closely. The spine MRI can reveal the irregularities of the spinal column caused due to the trauma. Combined with the MRI and the evaluation of the patient’s symptoms, the doctor can make a successful diagnosis. So, it helps in determining the exact source of the neurogenic shock and the pain associated with it.

Urinary Catheter

In the event of spinal injuries, the patients may suffer from incontinence. The urinary catheter is used by the doctor to measure the total urine volume. So, it helps determine the ability of the patient to urinate after the trauma or injury. Based on the urine test results, the presence of infection is detected. It is important to know it for a successful treatment plan.

Neurogenic Shock Treatment Methods

Neurogenic shock is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention. Failure to get medical help at the right time can cause severe problems. The treatment at the right time can reverse the complications. So, it stabilizes your condition without the risk of further injury or damage. The following steps are adopted to eliminate the risks or complications due to neurogenic shock.


The spinal injury leading to the shock is a life-threatening condition if ignored. So, going to the hospital immediately can eliminate severe complications. The doctor first adopts the treatment plan to stabilize the patients. Therefore, it will prevent irreversible tissue/cell damage. The doctor immobilizes you to avoid further damage. Immobilization in the spinal cord region is necessary to prevent further complications in the area.

General Assessment

The patient is then examined carefully by the doctor to understand the general condition. The assessment sheds light on the respiratory system (airway), breathing pattern, and blood circulation. Your blood pressure, pulse, and heartbeat is analyzed carefully. In most cases, patients can experience low blood pressure, a faint pulse, and bradycardia.

Intravenous Administration

Your blood pressure and heart rate must return to normal to prevent further tissue damage. So, your doctor gives you the fluids intravenously to regulate the pressure, heartbeat an pulse. The following medication can serve the purpose.

Low Blood Pressure

It is treated by your doctor with the administration of intravenous fluid and vasopressor. It is the medication that tightens the blood vessels. So, it raises blood pressure levels. The medications provided for severe hypotension are:

  • Ephedrine
  • Epinephrine
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Vasopressin
  • Norepinephrine
  • Fluid Resuscitation

Your doctor administers inotropic agents like dopamine to resuscitate the fluid levels in your body.


To bring back the body temperature to the normal levels and keep the heartbeat normal, the patient needs to take atropine. It manages the issue to keep decrease the discomfort.

Neurological Deficit

The neurological deficit is common among patients suffering a severe neurogenic shock. So, steroids are given through the IV to overcome the problem. The doctor suggests for high doses of methylprednisolone within the first eight hours of suffering the trauma that leads to neurogenic shock.


The invasive surgery is necessary to rectify the damage to the spinal cord that happens after the injury, trauma or accident.


Neurogenic shock is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. A serious injury to the spine can lead to the issue. So, never ignore the problems. If you or your loved ones get involved in an accident, then go to the emergency room immediately. An injury that makes you dizzy or nauseous also needs medical attention. Do not try to treat the problem at home. Each minute you waste to take action is valuable. Subsequently, your chances to get your normal life depends on the swift action. The symptoms along with chest pain indicate a severe problem that requires hospitalization. Therefore, take action immediately. Never wait as each minute is valuable for getting back your life.

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