Complications of Ataxia

Complications for Ataxia

Contractures: If you have ataxia, physiotherapy can help you maintain the use of your arms and legs, and prevent your muscles weakening or getting stuck in one position (contractures).

Source: NHS Choices UK1

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Bladder disorders: Bladder problems, such as urinary urgency or, more rarely, urinary incontinence, sometimes affect people with ataxia.

Source: NHS Choices UK2

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Erectile dysfunction: As a result of underlying nerve damage, some men with ataxia will experience difficulty getting or maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction).

Source: NHS Choices UK3

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Fatigue: Many people with neurological conditions such as ataxia report feeling extremely tired and lethargic (lacking in energy). It's thought this is partly caused by disturbed sleep and the physical efforts of having to cope with the loss of co-ordination.

Source: NHS Choices UK4

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Neuropathy: Damage to the nerve endings can result in nerve pain. The medical term for nerve pain is neuropathic pain, which is often experienced as a burning, aching or shooting pain, or sometimes tingling, in certain parts of the body.

Source: NHS Choices UK5

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Cardiomyopathy: Cardiomyopathy (damage to the heart muscle) is a common problem in some types of ataxia. This can be serious as it can place strain on the heart, affect the normal blood flow through the heart, and cause heartbeat irregularities (arrhythmias).

Source: NHS Choices UK6

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Depression: Depression

Living with a long-term condition such as ataxia can be stressful and can often cause intense feelings of anxiety. In some cases, this can trigger the onset of depression.

Signs that you may be depressed include feeling down or hopeless during the past month and no longer taking pleasure in the things you enjoy.

You should contact your GP or MDT for advice if you think you may be depressed. There are several treatments for depression, such as antidepressants and talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

You may also find it useful to contact Ataxia UK, a leading charity for people affected by ataxia. Their helpline number is 0845 644 0606, open Monday to Thursday, 10.30am to 2.30pm.

Source: NHS Choices UK7

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  1. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ ataxia/ treatment/ 
  2. ibid.
  3. ibid.
  4. ibid.
  5. ibid.
  6. ibid.
  7. ibid.

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.