Spinal Cord Diseases-HealthQM

What Are the Different Types of Spinal Cord Problems?

Spinal cord diseases are serious medical conditions that can cause paralysis, loss of sensation, and other disabilities. The most common spinal cord disease is cervical spondylosis (cervical spine degeneration), which is caused by wear and tear on your neck joints.

Other common spinal cord diseases include spinal stenosis (narrowing of your spinal canal) and disc herniations (when a disc bulges out). These conditions can lead to inflammation, pressure on your spinal nerves, or irritation of your nerve roots.

There are also less common but serious spinal cord diseases such as tumors, infections such as meningitis and polio, inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases, and degenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy [1].

1. Cervical spondylosis (cervical spine degeneration)

Cervical spondylosis (cervical spine degeneration) is one of several types of spinal arthritis. As people age, they may develop osteoarthritis in their neck, which can cause pain and stiffness in their neck and shoulders.

Cervical spondylosis is most common in middle-aged women. Symptoms include pain or numbness in your neck, upper back, arms, or hands; trouble turning your head to look behind you; muscle weakness that causes your shoulders to stoop forward; and problems with balance or coordination.

Doctors usually diagnose cervical spondylosis by taking an X-ray of your neck. If you have symptoms of cervical spondylosis, your doctor may also recommend an MRI scan to look for signs of damage from arthritis. Treatment for cervical spondylosis depends on how severe it is.

2. Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of spaces in your spine, can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in your arms and legs.

This condition is often caused by degenerative disk disease, which occurs when protective cartilage between vertebrae wears down over time.

Symptoms of spinal stenosis include pain that increases with activity and gets worse at night. If you experience these symptoms, talk to your doctor about treatments such as physical therapy or steroid injections.

3. Disc herniations

Disc herniations occur when a disc in your spine protrudes or bulges out. This can be painful and cause other symptoms, such as weakness, numbness, and tingling.

A disc herniation can occur anywhere along your spine but most commonly occurs in your lower back (lumbar spine).

The lumbar spine is made up of five vertebrae that are stacked on top of each other. The discs between these vertebrae act as cushions for your spinal cord and nerve roots.

When you bend forward or lift something heavy, stress is placed on these discs, which can cause them to bulge out or rupture (herniate).

3. Tumors

Tumors can occur in any part of your spinal cord, but most are found in your lower back. If you have cancer, you may notice symptoms such as weakness or numbness in your legs, pain that gets worse when you’re sitting or lying down, or tingling or numbness that travels up your legs.

Some tumors can cause additional complications, such as compression of nerves and blood vessels.

Your doctor will perform tests to determine if you have a tumor and what type it is. Treatment depends on where it is located and whether it has spread.

Surgery is often used to remove tumors located near vital organs like your kidneys and lungs. Radiation therapy may be used to treat tumors that cannot be surgically removed.

4. Infections such as meningitis and polio

Infections such as meningitis and polio can cause spinal cord diseases. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord. Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that invades your nervous system, causing paralysis.

If you experience weakness or numbness in your limbs, particularly on one side of your body, it could be symptoms of either meningitis or polio.

See a doctor immediately if you suspect either disease to prevent permanent damage to your spinal cord.

5. Inflammatory diseases

Inflammatory diseases of the spinal cord are caused by an overactive immune system, which is triggered by an infection or other illness.

The most common inflammatory disease of the spinal cord is transverse myelitis, which causes inflammation of both sides of your spinal cord. It’s often associated with viral infections and can cause temporary or permanent paralysis.

Other inflammatory diseases include Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), multiple sclerosis (MS), acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), and neuromyelitis Optica (NMO).

6. Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are characterized by immune system attacks on healthy cells and tissues.

Examples of autoimmune diseases include systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. These conditions can cause pain, fatigue, and other symptoms that affect your ability to live your life to its fullest.

To get an accurate diagnosis for an autoimmune disease, it’s important to see a doctor who has experience treating these conditions.

If you think you may have an autoimmune disease, talk with your doctor about tests that can help diagnose it. Once you know what’s causing your symptoms, you can work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that works for you.

7. Degenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy.

Degenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy are characterized by loss of motor neurons in both upper and lower extremities. People with these conditions often experience muscle weakness, wasting, spasticity, or paralysis.

ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after one of its most famous victims. The condition has no cure but can be managed through physical therapy and medications that can reduce pain or slow the progression of symptoms.

For example, a person may be able to walk short distances using leg braces or forearm crutches to support their weight.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is caused by the degeneration of motor neurons in both upper and lower extremities, resulting in muscle weakness or paralysis. It is considered an autosomal recessive disorder that mainly affects infants.


In conclusion, spinal cord problems can be caused by a variety of issues, such as injury, infection, or tumor. There are many different types of spinal cord problems, each with its own symptoms and treatments. If you are experiencing any symptoms that could be related to a spinal cord problem, it is important to seek medical attention right away.

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