How is Spinal Cord Compression Related with Nerves System?

The spinal cord includes nerves or a long bundle of nerves which carries messages and signals back and forth from the brain to the muscles and rest of the body.

Nerves expand out from the spinal cord to the limbs, trunk and the other organs of the body. These nerves send messages to and from the central nervous system.

The brain and the spinal cord together create the central nervous system. The bones of the spine are termed as vertebrae.

The nerves in the neck manage movement and sensation in your shoulder, neck and arms. These nerves are named as Cervical nerves.

The nerves in the upper back manage the upper part of your abdomen and chest. These nerves are termed as Thoracic nerves.

The nerves in the lower back manage your bowel, bladder, sexual organs and legs. These nerves are named as Lumbar and Sacral nerves.

Spinal Cord Compression happens when a mass puts pressure on the spinal cord. A mass can consist of bone fragment or tumor. Compression can expand anywhere along the cord from your neck (cervical spine) to your lower back (lumbar spine).

As your spinal cord runs down your back, it is guarded by a stack of backbones or vertebrae. They also keep your body straight. The nerves of your spinal cord travel through the openings between the vertebrae and out to the muscles.

Symptoms may include pain, weakness and numbness. Depending on the reason of the compression, symptoms may increase suddenly or slowly, and they may need anything from intense care to emergency surgery.


Various Symptoms of Spinal Cord Compression

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Compression may vary. They rely on how severe the compression is and on what part of the spinal cord are getting compressed.

The first symptom is commonly pain. More than 90% people (9 out of 10) with cord compression experience pain. As the compression gets worse, it causes other symptoms.

  • Pain or tenderness in the top or middle of your back or neck
  • Harsh pain in your lower back that gets worse or does not go away
  • Back pain that stops you from sleeping
  • Pain in your back which is worse when you sneeze, cough or go to toilet
  • A band of pain down your legs, arms or around your body
  • Numbness or weakness can also extend in the legs, hands and arms
  • Problems in controlling your bowel or bladder
  • Changes in sensation in a section of your body, for instance needles and pins or electric shock sensation
  • Not being able to empty your bowel or bladder
  • Numbness in the part around your back passage
  • Erection problems in men


Causes of Spinal Cord Compression

There are multiple causes of spinal cord compression. In diverse cases, the compression can occur suddenly and in other cases, compression comes over time. Causes of Spinal Cord Compression consist of:

  • A fractured disk may cause compression
  • Certain degenerative disorders like arthritis can cause cord compression
  • Spinal cord injury or the area around the cord can cause swelling that can lead to compression
  • Bleeding problems together with chiropractic manipulation can cause large blood clots compressing in the spinal cord
  • Both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors can develop in the space close to the spinal cord. If it occurs, the tumor can place pressure on the cord, causing compression.
Dr. Ruchita Chhabra
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