Information for Patients
Spinal Cord Diseases
Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs down the middle of your back. It carries signals back and forth between your body and your brain. It is protected by your vertebrae, which are the bone disks that make up your spine. If you have an accident that damages the vertebrae or other parts of the spine, this can also injure the spinal cord. Other spinal cord problems include
- Infections such as meningitis and polio
- Inflammatory diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
- Degenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy
Symptoms vary but might include pain, numbness, loss of sensation and muscle weakness. These symptoms can occur around the spinal cord, and also in other areas such as your arms and legs. Treatments often include medicines and surgery.
Spine Injuries and Disorders
Your backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bone discs called vertebrae. The vertebrae protect your spinal cord and allow you to stand and bend. A number of problems can change the structure of the spine or damage the vertebrae and surrounding tissue. They include
- Conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis and scoliosis
- Bone changes that come with age, such as spinal stenosis and herniated disks
Spinal diseases often cause pain when bone changes put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. They can also limit movement. Treatments differ by disease, but sometimes they include back braces and surgery.