Managing Multiple Meds After Spinal Cord Injury


When you have a spinal cord injury, your health becomes at risk in many secondary ways.

People with spinal cord injuries deal with blood pressure issues, blood clots, muscle spasms, nerve pain, incontinence, chronic urinary tract infection, autonomic dysreflexia, depression, and more.

A 2020 study at the University of Toronto found between 31 and 87 percent of people with SCI are taking multiple prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and health products.

Taking multiple medications comes with risks.

In the general population, being on multiple medications is linked to a lower quality of life, increased need for healthcare, and a shortened life span. Taking multiple medications can also interfere with rehab and community participation.

Talk with your doctor about all your medications.

Discuss your need for each medication.

When you leave rehab, you might have a long list for the local pharmacy. Talk with your primary care physician about all your regular medications. Make sure your doctor communicates with the specialist who gave your SCI diagnosis, and with any other specialists you might see.

You may have been prescribed psychiatric drugs or heavy-duty pain narcotics after your injury. While these drugs may have been appropriate in the acute setting, they can be very addictive and aren’t always appropriate for long term use. You may consider discontinuing their use.

When quitting any medication, do so under a physician’s careful guidance and never quit overnight, always gradually.

While many SCI symptoms may be manageable without medicating, others do require medication for stability.

Talk with your doctor about holistic options for insomnia and depression.

Physical therapy may minimize need for some medications.

Consider eating a healthy diet and taking vitamins.

Ask your doctor about the most “low risk” options when treating a symptom with drugs. Are there low risk alternatives to any prescriptions you currently take?

Always ask your doctor how a new medication might be expected to interact with your other meds.

If you see multiple physicians, be sure to disclose your medication list to avoid taking medications that don’t react well when mixed.

It’s a good idea to keep your med list handy and sign up to have your prescriptions filled automatically at your pharmacy monthly. Medication must be taken as prescribed to be effective, and having yours at hand when it’s time to take them is important.

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By: Cassandra Brandt