Spinal cord is the backbone of a human body, and an important part of the nervous system. So what are lesions on spine? To know, keep reading…..
The spinal cord is the most important part of the central nervous system, which is supported by nerve roots, intervertebral disks, vertebrae and a bundle of soft nervous tissue and support cells. A spinal cord starts from the medulla of the brain and ends in posterior of the back. It is responsible for neuro transmission of signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Even many of the reflexes and central pattern generators are controlled by this spinal cord. Precisely, it is a conduit for motor and sensory information, besides coordinating certain reflexes. However, a spinal cord is quite susceptible to an injury or a disease. And lesions are signs indicating that the spinal cord is afflicted with a serious medical condition which has myriad reasons to occur.
Lesions on the Spine and Brain
A spinal cord is constituted of 8 cervical roots, 8 thoracic discs, 5 lumbar roots and 5 sacral roots. The intervertebral discs of the spinal cord are shock absorbers of the body. However, there are many clinical syndromes which can indicate at lesions on the backbone. Two of the major reasons that cause this condition are spinal nerve root and spinal cord lesions. Back pain although is an ambiguous symptom in many medical conditions, is the most prominent one in spinal disorders. More often this symptom is centric about the cause that exerts undue pressure on spine. Now let’s understand the various medical conditions caused by these factors, in detail.
Spinal Nerve Root Lesions
Root lesions indicate a damaged or a compressed nerve root. Symptoms conspicuous in this medical condition are:
- Dermatomal pain
- Paresthesias (sensation of tingling and pricking)
- Selective sensory and motor nerve loss
- Irregular bowel movements
- Bladder dysfunction
Some of the major diseases that can cause root lesions are listed below:
|Disease||Causes and Symptoms|
|Disk Disease||This is a chronic case of acute herniation, where annulus fibrosus of disk tears, causing the disk material to extrude laterally or centrally. A central herniation may also indicate ulcers on cervical spine (upper part of the spinal cord), and can further affect the lower sacral nerve roots in the lumbar region. Another cause is chronic degeneration, in which the disk surfaces can be overly deposited with calcium, and with age, the disks dry up and offer less resilience. What follows is flattening of the discs and increased infringement on neural foramina and in the spinal cord. A searing back pain is felt in this condition.|
|Lumbar spinal stenosis||This condition causes an unstable spine where the spinal canal and the vertebral foramen undergo a lot of narrowing. This narrowing further leads to compression of the spinal nerves. Lumbar stenosis is also known as spinal stenosis. People suffering from this medical condition, experience numbness in legs, hands, shoulders and back. Also weakness and loss of coordination in muscles is felt. Also, this condition can culminate into cervical stenosis, if the upper part of the spinal cord undergoes narrowing.|
|Cauda Equina syndrome||The nerve roots that are found below the conus medullaris form a bundle known as the cauda equina. A neurological condition which affects this bundle that undergoes compression and inflammation is known as the Cauda Equina syndrome. This can cause altered reflexes, decreased sensations, fatigue and pain. Precisely, this causes an acute dysfunction of the lumbar plexus region of the spinal cord.|
|Conus Medullaris syndrome||This spinal disorder is again a repercussion of a spinal nerve root lesion. Besides, this is a common condition in ankylosing spondylitis. Pressure on the conus medullaris due to a hematoma or a spinal tumor causes this syndrome. People suffer loss of bladder control, unstable walking, numbness in feet and impotence, in this medical condition.|
|Sciatica||As the name suggests, this condition is caused when the sciatic nerve is afflicted with an injury or infection. This nerve runs all along the back and then through the buttock till the leg. And it is also the longest nerve in the body. Back pain, loss of bladder and bowel control and numbness in limbs are common symptoms of this condition. However, this condition is often treated as an assemblage of symptoms of various disorders like Piriformis syndrome, Sacroiliac joint dysfunction, Isthmic spondylolisthesis, lumbar spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease.|
Spinal Cord Lesions
Lesions on spinal cord occur when the ascending sensory nerves or the descending motor/autonomic nerves are subjected to extreme pressure or are infected with a disease. These nerves undergo inflammation, which is an instant inflammatory response of the immune system, for any anomaly in the body.
|Syndrome||Causes and Symptoms|
|Acute myelopathy||A chronic form of spinal cord dysfunction, which could be factored by many reasons, one of them being vascular malfunction. In this case, the two major blood vessels: posterior spinal arteries and anterior spinal arteries, are affected. A tear in these arteries or swelling in arterial walls can cause this condition. An acute myelopathy of this kind is often known as vascular myelopathy. Symptoms can be progressing numbness and back pain, eventually leading the person to get bed ridden or wheel chaired. Acute myelopathy can also be caused by lumbar stenosis.|
|Transverse myelitis||This condition again attributes to inflammation of the spinal cord. This neurological syndrome is an outcome of a rare manifestation of many auto immune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Sjogren’s syndrome, and sarcoidosis. Common symptoms are sensory disturbance, bladder and bowel dysfunction and a radicular pain along the spinal nerve.|
|Multiple Sclerosis||A severe neurological condition that decays the myelin sheath of the nerves is known as multiple sclerosis. People initially feel symptoms of back pain, loss of sensation in muscles, difficulty in walking and talking, loss of bowel and bladder function and paralysis (in worst case). If not diagnosed on time, the consequence will be adverse, leading to swelling in the brain.|
|Cervical spondylosis||Persistent wear and tear of the vertebral discs in neck can cause cervical spondylosis. A stiff and painful neck, tingling sensation in limbs, lack of coordination, abnormal reflexes and loss of bowel and bladder control are prominent symptoms of this condition. A searing neck pain for a prolonged period of time can signal a warning for cervical spondylosis.|
|Spinal tumor||A spinal tumor, which could be malign or benign, could erupt within the bones of the spinal cord. Immaterial of whether the tumor is malign or benign, this condition can get potentially grave, causing a plethora of neurological disorders and paralysis. Symptoms observed are common as mentioned above, with back pain and loss of bladder and bowel function being the most prominent ones.|
From the many causes of lesions on spine, the above listed are some of the major ones. This condition is many a time caused by a combination of neurological disorders. However, one aspect that is common amongst all of them, is the inflammation of the spinal nerves due to which lesions erupt on spine, as an autoimmune response.