Disorders That Affect the Spinal Cord & Nerves
The spinal cord is the main pathway of communication between the brain and the rest of the body. It is a long, fragile, tube-like structure that extends downward from the base of the brain. The cord is protected by the back bones of the spine. Any condition that narrows the spinal canal can put your spinal cord and spinal nerves at risk. The lack of space creates pressure, causing irritation and inflammation. Conditions that can narrow your spinal canal include infection, tumors, trauma, herniated discs, arthritis and thickening of ligaments. Here are a few conditions that can affect the spinal cord and nerves.
A herniated disc refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (discs) between the individual bones that stack up to make your spine. A herniated disc can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. Disc herniation is most often the result of a gradual, age-related wear and tear call disc degeneration. As you age, your spinal discs lose some of their water content. That makes them less flexible and more prone to tearing or rupturing with even a minor strain or twist. You can prevent a herniated disc by exercising regularly, maintaining good posture, and maintaining a healthy weight.
A common symptom of sciatica is pain that starts in the lower back and radiates or travels to the buttock and down the back of the leg - possibly to the foot and toes. Pain levels vary from mild to severe and are described as shooting, burning in sensation, or electric shock - like. The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body and is made up of individual nerve roots that start by branching out from the spine in the lower back and then combine to form the sciatic nerve. Sciatica symptoms occur when the large sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed at or near its point of origin.
A condition involving any narrowing of the spinal canal or nerve-root canals, spinal stenosis can result in compression of, or pressure on the spinal nerves and nerve roots. Most people with spinal stenosis experience more pain when walking or standing, and less pain when walking with a shopping cart or sitting down.