Neurogenic Shock: Symptoms, Treatment, & Management

treatment of neurogenic shock

Neurogenic shock is a hazardous medical emergency that must be addressed as soon as possible. It may occur with a spinal cord injury that prevents your body from regulating its own blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. Neurogenic shock is a dangerous illness that prevents oxygen from reaching your organs.


Individuals who have a spinal cord injury may develop a syndrome known as neurogenic shock. During neurogenic shock, blood vessels dilate, causing fluctuations in blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. This may have a serious impact on the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body and need rapid medical intervention.


Normal blood flow can be restored, and optimum bodily functioning can be promoted with prompt treatment of neurogenic shock.

Causes of neurogenic shock

Causes of neurogenic shock  The sympathetic nervous system is in charge of the body’s “fight or flight” reaction. When triggered, the body goes into high alert mode, with blood vessels tightening (constricting) and blood pressure and heart rate rising.


Neurogenic shock is often caused by spinal cord damage or trauma. As a consequence, your body loses function and sympathetic nervous system stimulation. During physical exercise, your sympathetic nervous system supports biological functioning. This includes improving your breathing by increasing your heartbeat, elevating your blood pressure, and expanding your airways.


If your sympathetic nervous system is not functioning properly, your blood pressure may decrease, affecting your brain, tissues, and spinal cord.

Neurogenic shock signs and symptoms

treatment of neurogenic shock

Neurogenic shock typically lasts 1-6 weeks following a spinal cord injury. While it primarily affects the circulatory system, untreated neurogenic shock may result in lasting tissue damage. As a result, it is critical to be aware of the symptoms and seek prompt medical assistance.


When sympathetic innervation is lost, blood arteries dilate, resulting in limited pressure moving blood throughout the body. As a consequence, cells aren’t getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to perform correctly.


Blood may pool in the veins of the limbs if sympathetic innervation is lost. Blood may pool in the arms and legs instead of returning to the heart. This results in a dangerous loop in which less and less blood flows throughout the body.


Neurogenic shock is a potentially fatal disorder that needs prompt medical intervention. The following signs of neurogenic shock all indicate that blood flow in the body is reduced:

Blood pressure is too low (hypotension)

Your B.P. will decrease if you have a neurogenic shock. Because of the decrease of muscular action in your blood arteries, your blood is not circulating as it should. This puts your organs in jeopardy. Without blood delivering oxygen throughout your body, organs might become oxygen-depleted and perish.

Heart rate is low (bradycardia)

You will also develop bradycardia. This refers to a heart rate that is slower than usual. A normal heart rate ranges between 60 and 100 beats per minute. During a bradycardia episode, the heart rate drops to less than 60 beats per minute. This aggravates the body’s lack of blood flow.

Temperature fluctuations in the body

A decrease in blood flow might impair your body’s capacity to regulate temperature. Your body temperature may suddenly increase and dip.

Skin that is flushed

treatment of neurogenic shock

Because your blood is accumulating in your veins rather than circulating around, your skin may get flushed. Because of the increased blood volume under the skin, the skin will feel warm and dry to the touch. Even though your core temperature is lower than usual, this might be the case.

Treatment of neurogenic shock

If a spine injury produces neurogenic shock, stabilizing the spine is often the initial step in neurogenic shock therapy. In this circumstance, treating any further injuries will be a serious concern. To stabilize the damage, you may need to be immobilized. Medical personnel will also ensure that you can breathe correctly. In severe cases, this may need intubation and the use of a breathing machine.


Once your spine injury has been treated, medical personnel will strive to restore your blood pressure to normal. They will utilize IV fluids as one way. Doctors will also use the IV to provide medication that will boost your blood vessels and heart to function normally. Various drugs may be prescribed as required to treat other symptoms.


The American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons both suggest that mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) be maintained at 85-90 mmHg for the first seven days after an acute SCI.

Spinal shock vs. neurogenic shock

treatment of neurogenic shock

Neurogenic shock and spinal shock are two distinct disorders that are sometimes misunderstood since they may both develop after a spinal cord injury. They may also share symptoms such as hypotension and bradycardia.


Unlike neurogenic shock, which occurs most often at the T6 level of damage or above, spinal shock may occur after injury to any location of the spinal cord.


Neurogenic shock is defined as a disturbance of the sympathetic nervous system that changes blood vessel tone. Without sympathetic tone, blood cannot circulate properly throughout the body, resulting in a slower heart rate, low blood pressure, and temperature dysregulation.

Spinal shock, on the other hand, causes the temporary loss of all motor, sensory, and reflex functions below the level of damage. It is caused by spinal cord inflammation and edema, which inhibits blood flow below the degree of damage. Individuals may progressively regain some reflexes, feeling, and motor function when the spinal cord is stabilized, and swelling subsides. This will be determined mostly by the degree of spinal cord damage.

Key concepts in neurogenic shock

Following a spinal cord injury, neurogenic shock induces a lack of sympathetic (“fight or flight”) activation. As a consequence, the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) processes of the body are unopposed, resulting in vasodilation, slowed heart rate, and low blood pressure. Fortunately, there is an effective treatment for a neurogenic shock that reduce the risk of subsequent problems.


We hope this information has helped you understand what neurogenic shock is and why treatment of neurogenic shock is required to regulate cardiovascular functioning.


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