Did you know that 7-10% of people report that they experience some kind of nerve pain that impacts their quality of life? If you wake up with numb hands or your body parts fall asleep once in a while, it’s no cause for concern.
However, if this is regularly happening to you, the loss of sensation might be from an underlying issue like a spinal cord disorder.
Keep reading to learn the signs and symptoms of spinal cord diseases to know if you need to see a doctor.
Spinal Cord Disease Symptoms
A spinal cord disease is a condition that causes damage to the spinal cord. A condition might include the following:
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Vertebral fractures
Spinal cord diseases have different signs and symptoms depending on the disorder. Some of the symptoms you might experience are:
- Weakness or paralysis of limbs
- Changes in reflexes
- Loss of sensation
- Back pain
- Loss of urinary or bowel control
- Uncontrolled muscle spasms
If you have a specific disease like multiple sclerosis, you might also have symptoms such as loss of vision, numbness in the legs, and sexual dysfunction. Multiple sclerosis treatment can alleviate these symptoms.
Causes of Spinal Cord Diseases
Spinal cord diseases can originate from the inside or outside of the spinal cord. Damage from the outside of the cord is caused by a spinal cord injury.
Spinal cords can compress by spinal degeneration, bone fracture, or other abnormalities.
The spinal cord is divided into four areas each of which can succumb to a disease or disorder. The four areas are:
- Cervical (neck)
- Sacral (pelvis)
- Lumbar (upper back region)
- Thoracic (lower back region)
Spinal nerves have roots that relay messages to different areas of the skin’s surface. Loss of sensation indicates a spinal cord disorder in a specific area.
Spinal Cord Disorder Diagnosis
To diagnose a spinal cord disorder, you’ll need a physical exam and a doctor who can review your medical history. There are some tests a doctor might recommend depending on your health such as:
- Spine MRI or CT scan
- X-rays to check for tumors or fractures
- Electromyogram to determine the nerve root involved
- Myelography to determine spinal abnormality locations
Each test looks for something different so you might need to undergo multiple.
Spinal Cord Disorder Treatment
Spinal cord disorder treatment depends on the location and severity of the condition. Some diseases are irreversible but treatment can help prevent further complications.
Treatment for spinal cord disorders can include the following:
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Surgery if necessary
- Activity modification
Medications are used to control certain symptoms one is experiencing such as pain, high blood pressure, and bladder and bowel dysfunctions.
Understanding Spinal Cord Diseases
Spinal cord diseases and spinal cord injuries can cause permanent changes in sensation, strength, and other bodily functions.
If you believe you have a spinal cord disease, you might experience spinal pain, nerve damage, uncontrolled muscle spasms, and more. Although not all injuries can be cured, they can be treated to help with symptoms.
You’ll need a doctor to diagnose a spinal cord disorder if you have signs and symptoms from this guide.
For more articles on health, check out the other posts on our blog.