How to Manage Involuntary Shaking After Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can have a complex impact on an individual’s physical and emotional well-being. One common and often frustrating symptom that may arise after an SCI is involuntary shaking or tremors, often known as ‘spasms’.

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These involuntary movements can significantly affect a person’s quality of life and daily activities. In this article, we will delve into the causes of involuntary shaking after spinal cord injury and explore various strategies for managing and coping with this challenging symptom.

Understanding involuntary shaking: causes and mechanisms

Involuntary shaking, also known as tremors or spasms, can occur as a result of disruptions in the normal functioning of the nervous system after a spinal cord injury. The severity and frequency of these tremors can vary widely depending on the level and extent of the injury.

Common causes of involuntary shaking after SCI include:

  • Disrupted neural pathways: The spinal cord serves as a crucial communication highway between the brain and the rest of the body. A spinal cord injury can disrupt the transmission of signals, leading to uncoordinated muscle movements and tremors.
  • Spasticity: Spasticity is a common complication of SCIs where muscles become stiff and resistant to movement. This stiffness can lead to involuntary muscle contractions and shaking.
  • Hyperreflexia: SCIs can result in hyperactive reflexes, causing sudden and uncontrollable muscle spasms that manifest as tremors.

Managing involuntary shaking: strategies and approaches

While involuntary shaking can pose challenges, there are several effective strategies and approaches that individuals with spinal cord injuries can employ to manage and mitigate this symptom:

Physical therapy and rehabilitation

Engaging in targeted physical therapy and rehabilitation programs can help improve muscle control and coordination. Therapists can design customised exercises to address specific tremor-related issues, enhancing overall motor function.


In some cases, healthcare professionals may prescribe medications to alleviate tremors and spasticity. Commonly used medications include muscle relaxants, and it is essential to work closely with a medical team to find the right medication and dosage.

Assistive devices

Utilising assistive devices such as braces, splints, or orthotics can provide stability and support to affected limbs, reducing the impact of tremors on daily activities.

Mind-body techniques

Practices like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help manage stress and anxiety, which can exacerbate tremors. These techniques promote relaxation and enhance the mind-body connection.

Adaptive strategies

Exploring adaptive strategies, such as modifying the environment to reduce triggers for tremors, can significantly improve daily functioning. This may include using weighted utensils or specialised tools to enhance grip and control.

Coping with emotional challenges

Involuntary shaking after a spinal cord injury not only affects the body but can also impact emotional well-being. Coping with these challenges is essential for a holistic recovery:

  • Psychological support: Seeking psychological counselling or therapy can help individuals navigate the emotional complexities that arise from coping with tremors and other SCI-related issues.
  • Peer support groups: Connecting with others who have experienced similar challenges through support groups can provide valuable insights, tips, and emotional support.
  • Education and awareness: Gaining a comprehensive understanding of tremors and their management can empower individuals to take control of their situation and actively participate in their treatment plans.

Support from Aspire Law

Involuntary shaking after a spinal cord injury can present formidable obstacles, but they are not insurmountable. With a combination of physical therapies, medical interventions, adaptive strategies, and emotional support, individuals can effectively manage tremors and enhance their overall quality of life.

Collaborating closely with a healthcare team and embracing a proactive approach to self-care are pivotal steps towards achieving a fulfilling and meaningful life post-SCI. Get in touch to discover more about how Aspire Law can assist you.