Do you know which part of your body helps you to stand, walk, move altogether?
The spine is an extremely vital organ. It channels many nerves from the brain to the rest of the body (which enables you to walk, talk, breath, read this blog and basically everything else); it gives support and flexibility to your upper body.
The firm, long bony structure that runs through the middle of your back, is the backbone. It is also known as the spine or the spinal cord. Now, like every other part of the human body, the spine is also subject to degeneration and vulnerable to injury. Any conditions which affect the spine and its health is called myelopathy. The condition is often called myelopathy of the spinal cord as well.
A big bone like the spine can get affected in various ways. You might get any one of them or a few combined (or, with a bit of luck, none if you are careful with your activities and diet). Anyway, here are a few ways in which your backbone can get affected:
- Cervical Myelopathy: Cervical Myelopathy is the most common kind of myelopathy caused due to arthritis where the bones in the neck get degenerated.
- Myelitis: Myelitis refers to the inflammation in the spinal cord caused due to an infection or some autoimmune activity (a kind of disease where your own cells start attacking other cells).
- Vascular Myelopathy: Vascular Myelopathy is an imbalance of the blood supply in the blood vessels of the spinal cord.
This is why you should be aware of what might cause any kind of myelopathy of the spinal cord.
Causes of Myelopathy of the spinal cord
- Tumour in the backbone
- Fracture due to accidents, fall or collision etc.
- Degeneration due to arthritis
- Autoimmune disease
- Genetic vulnerability
- Extra growth of a bone in the spine
- Poor lifestyle choices like smoking, abuse of drugs and alcohol.
- Habitual straining of the spine or the spinal cord.
When something is as serious as myelopathy of the spinal cord and when activities of your daily life can potentially lead you to it, it’s wise to know any signs which might result in the myelopathy of the spinal cord.
Symptoms of Myelopathy of the spinal cord
Like, it’s already mentioned, the spinal cord holds the ‘cord’ of our almost every activity, don’t be surprised if you visit your doctor with a pain in your leg and he says that you have myelopathy of the spinal cord. The symptom of a defect in your backbone can manifest itself in any form, in any part of the body. But the most common symptoms are:
- Pain in arms, shoulder, neck or waist
- Tingling or numbness or getting the ‘pins-and-needles’.
- Difficulty in balancing
- Difficulty or inability to move, especially your legs
- Trouble or change in writing
- Weakness, dizziness, fatigue
- Imbalance in hand-eye coordination
- Inconsistency in urine or bowel movement
- Challenged sexual functioning
The symptoms of myelopathy generally increase in intensity over time. Make sure that you see the signs in their early stages so that the diagnosis and treatment can start early.
Diagnosis and treatment of Myelopathy of the spinal cord
The most popular way of diagnosis of myelopathy of the spinal cord is an MRI. Other alternatives like an X-ray, Computed Tomography, Angiography can also be recommended by the doctor if he thinks it fit.
The treatment of myelopathy of the spinal cord depends on the underlying cause. If it is something like arthritis, medicines can slow down the progress of the disease. However, in most cases, a myelopathy requires a surgery. However, you might get an option to choose between an open surgery or a minimally invasive surgery (MIS). MIS causes minimal damage to your other tissues and with the advancement in medical science, it poses minimum risks as well. Even the recovery with an MIS is much faster.
Myelopathy of the spinal cord is a matter of grave seriousness. Never ignore the symptoms. While these symptoms do not necessarily mean that you have myelopathy but it could very well indicate another serious health issue.
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