Spinal Cord Compression: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

The spinal cord is an assembly of small bones (vertebrae), nerves and soft tissues which together work to transmit messages to the brain and vice versa. It runs from the base of the head down to the lower back. The nerves project out of the intervertebral spaces and connect with the muscles to send signals to the whole body. Pressure in any part of the spine is referred to as Spinal Cord Compression.


  • Osteoarthritis- wear and tear of the spinal vertebrae due to the process of ageing
  • Tumor in the spine
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Inherent defect in the alignment of the spinal cord
  • Direct trauma to the spine
  • Bone disease or infection in the spinal cavity
  • Bone spurs may exert undue pressure on the spine
  • Fractures in the spinal cord
  • Damage or dislocation of the intervertebral discs
  • Accumulation of abscess (pus) around the spinal cord
  • Hardening of the connective tissues
  • Hematoma- accumulation of blood near or within the spine


  • Pain which can be severe and incapacitating
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Loss of sensation in the limbs
  • Stiffness in the arms, legs, back or neck
  • Sexual disorders
  • Inability to maintain body balance or movement
  • Sciatica- burning pain radiating into the arms, legs and hips
  • Disruption of bowel movements or urinary incontinence
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling of pricks and needles in the body


  • The spine specialist may analyze the apparent symptoms, reflexes and weakness of limbs may be conducted
  • X-ray imaging may be required to assess the change in spine alignment or growth of bone spurs
  • MRI scans and CT scans may help to review the damage to soft tissues as well as other structures within the spinal cavity
  • Bone scans may also be performed
  • Electromyography- testing the muscle activities using electric currents
  • Myelogram- injecting a dye into the spine before conducting a scan


  • Prescription of anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers
  • Administering steroid injections into the spinal cavity
  • Use of a cervical collar or removable brace to support the spine
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and restore mobility
  • Surgical removal of bone spurs or tumors
  • Surgical fusion of vertebrae to enhance the stability of the spinal cord
  • Cold or heat therapy may help to reduce pain and swelling
  • Radiation or chemotherapy may be required to destroy the tumor if it compresses the spine
  • Drainage of accumulated pus or blood
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed in case of an infection
  • Surgical insertion of metal screws, wires and rods to stabilize as well as rectify the spinal alignment

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