Spinal cord injury (paraplegia)

Paraplegia is caused by damage that cuts across the spinal cord.


Paraplegia is caused by damage that cuts across the spinal cord. Depending on the location of the injury, this leads to paralysis, sensory disturbances and impaired functioning of internal organs. Intensive rehabilitation therapy, supporting aids and the treatment of secondary diseases are important.


  • Technically, paraplegia affects the legs, buttocks, bladder, intestines and stomach
  • It is caused by injury to the thoracic or lumbar spinal cord
  • Where the arms and chest are also affected, this is referred to as tetraplegia
  • It is caused by injury to the cervical spinal cord

Main symptoms

  • Paralysis
  • Sensory disturbances, numbness
  • Impaired control over bladder and bowel function
  • Soft muscles at first, then increased muscle tension

Other symptoms

  • Risk of a cardiovascular collapse
  • Impairment of sexual functions
  • Breathing problems

Causes and treatment


The following can cause injury to the spinal cord:

  • Accident (traffic accident, fall, etc.)
  • Diseases of the spinal cord (tumours, multiple sclerosis, infarct, etc.)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Functional investigation of nervous system
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
Possible therapies

When to see a doctor?

  • Paralysis, sensory disturbances or sudden incontinence

Further information

Swiss Paraplegic Foundation (Schweizer Paraplegiker-Stiftung)

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.