SPINAL CORD COMPRESSION
Spinal cord compression is caused by any condition that puts pressure on your spinal cord. Your spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that carries messages back and forth from your brain to your muscles and other soft tissues. As your spinal cord travels down your back, it is protected by a stack of backbones called vertebrae. They also hold your body upright. The nerves of your spinal cord run through the openings between the vertebrae and out to your muscles.
One of the most common causes of spinal cord compression is the gradual wear and tear on the bones of the spine, known as osteoarthritis. People who develop spinal cord compression from this are usually older than 50.
These are common symptoms:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck, back, or lower back
- Burning pain that spreads to the arms, buttocks, or down into the legs (sciatica)
- Numbness, cramping, or weakness in the arms, hands, or legs
- Loss of sensation in the feet
- Trouble with hand coordination
- “Foot drop,” weakness in a foot that causes a limp
- Loss of sexual ability
If you have any of these symptoms, you need to get medical attention right away, typically in the emergency room:
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Severe or increasing numbness between the legs, inner thighs, and back of the legs
- Severe pain and weakness that spreads into one or both legs, making it hard to walk or get out of a chair