Living with a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) has several major side effects, with Autonomic Dysreflexia being one of the most significant (AD). Autonomic dysreflexia is an abnormal reactivity of the involuntary (autonomic) nervous system to stimuli. The good news is that it is typically preventable. When the neurological system of your body is triggered uncomfortably, it can show signs of autonomic dysreflexia.


Autonomic Dysreflexia is most common in those with a T6 injury or higher. In rare instances, those with lower-level injuries will also develop AD. It is fairly simple to learn the symptoms of Autonomic Dysreflexia, which will serve as your first line of defence.

Causes of Autonomic Dysreflexia

The most prevalent cause of autonomic dysreflexia (AD) is spinal cord injury. The neural system of people with AD overreacts to stimuli that are not bothersome to healthy people. Some other causes can include:

  • Side effects of some medicines
  • Brain injury and severe head trauma
  • Subarachnoid haemorrhage (a form of brain bleeding)

Symptoms of Autonomic Dysreflexia

Certainly, the symptoms of this condition are so obvious that you will recognise them as soon as it occurs. Once the pain stimuli are removed, the symptoms will quickly fade.

  • Sweating on the Forehead
    Sweating is a severe symptom of Autonomic Dysreflexia. If you notice yourself sweating, particularly on your forehead, check all areas of your body for the possible cause of the pain. You may even find yourself sweating below your injury level and in unusual places, like around your belly button.
  • High Blood Pressure
    Your blood pressure is the most important indicator of Autonomic Dysreflexia since it can mean life or death. A blood pressure of more than 200 mmHg is particularly risky. High blood pressure is triggered by a pain stimulus to the autonomic nervous system, which results in increased blood pressure. If the AD is prolonged, it will rapidly progress into the severe zone, and a stroke may occur.
  • Throbbing Headache
    When Autonomic Dysreflexia is fully activated, a rapid headache will occur if the excruciating stimuli are not removed in time. These headaches will appear “out of nowhere” and can be incredibly painful, usually centred on the frontal lobe of the head; it could feel like a thumping headache.
  • Skin Flushing
    Autonomic Dysreflexia is characterised by skin flushing, particularly a red flushed face. A red flushed face can also be improved rapidly after the pain/stimuli are eliminated, but your skin will also dissipate to normal once your body has stopped feeling the pain causing the Dysreflexia. Sometimes people will have flushed skin below their site of pain, but it is usually limited to the skin above the injured area.
  • Confusion or Anxiety
    Confusion, anxiety, and nervousness are some of the first symptoms of Autonomic Dysreflexia. These states of mind occur during the early stages of Autonomic Dysreflexia and can indicate that something is uncomfortable beneath your level of injury. Always be informed of your mental state and its variations.

Treatment of Autonomic Dysreflexia

Finally, look for the origin of the pain in all areas of the body. Always go to the ER if you can’t figure out what’s causing your pain. They have the technology (X-Rays, CT Scans, etc.) to determine the cause.

Any underlying cause of autonomic dysreflexia should be addressed. Because the two most common causes of autonomic dysreflexia in a patient with a spinal cord injury are an overinflated bladder and a full bowel, treatment should focus on resolving these disorders with bladder catheterization or enema, respectively. Any other possible reason should also be examined.

If you are someone dealing with spinal cord injury and looking for alternative treatment options like stem cell therapy for SCI, then get in touch with Advancells at or call/WhatsApp us at +91-9654321400.