The spinal cord is responsible for transmitting messages between your brain and body. It contains nerves that send signals from your brain to tell your muscles how to move, as well as sensors that receive information from throughout your body so you can feel things like heat or cold .
If you’re experiencing any of the following 10 symptoms, it may be time to get checked out by your doctor to see if you have spinal cord disease.
These diseases are often difficult to diagnose because there are so many different types, so early identification is key in getting treatment that can improve the quality of your life and limit damage from the disease.
But don’t worry, just because you have symptoms doesn’t mean you definitely have a spinal cord disease; it just means you should get checked out!
1. Difficulty walking or weakness in legs
Difficulty walking or weakness in the legs is one of many symptoms of spinal cord diseases. If you have trouble moving your legs, it could be because of damage to your spinal cord.
Some causes include tumors, infections such as meningitis and polio, inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases, and degenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy.
If you notice any difficulty with your leg movement, consult with your doctor to determine if further tests are needed.
2. Reduced sensation in legs
Reduced sensation in the legs can be caused by an injury to or disease of your spinal cord. If you have reduced sensation in your legs, you may feel like there is something wrong with them but not know exactly what it is.
It can be difficult to diagnose spinal cord diseases, as they often share symptoms with other conditions and may only be detected through tests such as MRI scans or nerve conduction studies.
Early diagnosis and treatment are important for reducing long-term complications of spinal cord diseases.
3. Weakness or paralysis in arms or hands
Weakness or paralysis in arms or hands is one of the most common symptoms of spinal cord disease. It may be mild, like numbness or tingling, to severe, where you can’t move your arm at all.
In many cases, weakness is accompanied by other symptoms such as loss of sensation and difficulty walking. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor right away.
Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing further damage to your spinal cord and nervous system.
4. Problems with bladder control
Problems with bladder control can be caused by several conditions, including spinal cord diseases.
The spinal cord is an important part of your nervous system that connects your brain to all parts of your body. It transmits information between these areas and helps you move, feel sensations such as pain and heat, and make decisions.
When problems occur in any part of your nervous system, it can cause changes in how you function. In some cases, these changes are temporary; in others, they may be permanent.
5. Poor coordination and balance
Poor coordination and balance can be signs of many different spinal cord diseases, including degenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
In these conditions, neurons in your brain and spinal cord begin to die off, causing muscle weakness. Some symptoms of ALS include difficulty speaking or swallowing, muscle cramps, twitching in your arms or legs, or trouble breathing.
SMA causes progressive muscle weakness that gets worse over time. Both conditions can also cause low blood pressure.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis so you can start treatment as soon as possible.
6. Pain below the waist
These conditions can cause pain that is sharp or dull, in one spot or all over. It can be constant or intermittent and may come and go.
Other symptoms include numbness, tingling, weakness, muscle spasms, loss of bladder control (incontinence), bowel problems (constipation or diarrhea), difficulty urinating (dribbling), difficulty walking (ataxia), and loss of sensation in areas below your waist.
7. Changes in skin color
Changes in skin color can be an indication of spinal cord disease. The most common change is discoloration (often redness) or pale patches that can appear anywhere on your body.
This can be due to injury, but it can also indicate an infection, inflammation, or tumor. If you notice changes in your skin color, especially if they don’t go away after a few days, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
8. New onset of bowel problems
New onset of bowel problems is one of the first signs that something is wrong. If you experience any change in your bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea, it’s important to see your doctor right away.
The sooner you seek treatment, whether it’s for an infection or something more serious like cancer, the better off you will be.
It’s also important to note that changes in bowel habits can be caused by conditions other than spinal cord diseases; however, if they occur along with other symptoms (see below), they may be worth further investigation.
9. Pins-and-needles sensation anywhere on the body
Pins-and-needles sensation anywhere on the body is usually caused by damage to nerves in your spine. A common cause of pinprick sensations is nerve compression, which can be caused by osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, or degenerative disc disease.
If you experience pins-and-needles sensations that are worse at night and wake you up from sleep, it could be related to a pinched nerve in your neck. This type of pain is often described as burning or tingling and can radiate down one or both arms into your hands.
If you notice any of these symptoms, consult with your doctor about treatment options for pinched nerves in your neck.
10. Symptoms that worsen over time
Symptoms that worsen over time are common with spinal cord diseases. This is because many of these conditions can be progressive, which means they get worse as time goes on.
If you’re experiencing worsening symptoms, such as muscle weakness or loss of bladder control, it’s important to see your doctor right away. They may recommend an MRI or other imaging tests to rule out any spinal cord diseases.
In conclusion, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of spinal cord diseases so that you can seek medical attention if necessary. If you experience any of the symptoms listed in this article, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment of spinal cord diseases are essential for the best possible outcome.