Perhaps you have experienced a car accident, taken a hard fall on your back or side, or simply noticed a sudden pain or lump near your spine. These could each cause or mean a myriad of different issues. Regardless, it is important that you seek a physician’s opinion as soon as possible afterward to rule out a spinal lesion as a result or the cause of your observation.
Definition and Causes
A spinal lesion is any sort of adverse change that occurs in the spinal column tissue. A lesion may be caused by a variety of triggers, including autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), tumors, and trauma.
The range in symptoms of spinal lesions can vary greatly, depending on the extent of the lesion. What symptoms do MS spinal lesions cause? With any autoimmune disease, the symptoms associated with it stem from the immune system attacking the body. With MS, the immune system attacks the central nervous system, damaging the myelin coating that protects nerves throughout the body. Since the nervous system provides a vital communication pathway between the brain and the body, the results of this disease can be dramatic, ranging from tingling and numbness in the extremities to a total loss of the ability to walk.
A spinal lesion can only be diagnosed with an x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or another image-producing exam, usually showing up as a white, gray, or black spot on the scans. A neurological exam can determine if you have any coordination or strength problems or any loss of sensitivity throughout your body resulting from the lesion.
Depending on the size and location of the lesion, spinal lesions from tumors or injury may go unnoticed for some time before symptoms become obvious.
A spinal lesion can manifest itself in a variety of ways depending on the root cause of the lesion. Numbness, tingling or burning, muscle spasms, weakness, hindered mobility or dexterity in the hands, and trouble with balance and coordination are some of the most typically observed symptoms.
In severe cases and the advanced stages of multiple sclerosis, the patient may experience changes in sexual function, a decrease in bladder control, difficulty breathing, or paralysis.
Treatment and Outlook
A spinal lesion is located in a critical area to the rest of the body, and therefore, damage to the area can result in severe consequences.
Treatment for a lesion depends on size, location, and the type of lesion. Unfortunately, once the damage is done to the spinal column, there is no known way to 100% reverse the damage completely. However, early diagnosis and treatment after an injury can mean that symptoms are greatly minimized to the point of the patient feeling like they no longer have the lesion. If the lesion occurs due to trauma to the spine, it can take up to six months after injury to become symptom-free. However, if the patient has not recovered by 12 months, it is likely that they will never experience a symptom-free lifestyle again.
If the lesion is a result of a disease such as multiple sclerosis or infection, it is critical that a diagnosis is found and for treatment to begin as soon as possible. Immunosuppressants, therapy, and drugs like antibiotics or antiviral pills may be prescribed by the physician to keep symptoms under control for as long as possible. However, depending on the disease and how soon the issue is identified, it is highly unlikely that full function is restored after treatment and recovery.
In summary, spinal lesions vary greatly depending on the cause and size of the lesion. If the damage is from a physical injury to the back, it is possible to reverse the symptoms, but the damage to your spinal column is permanent. If the lesion is the result of a disease such as multiple sclerosis, an infection, or cancer, it is much more unlikely that symptoms may be reversed, even with an early diagnosis and treatment. Regardless, every situation and diagnosis is different. Treatment pathways and courses of action vary greatly depending on the cause of the lesion, and treatment may run a different course through different bodies. If diagnosed with a spinal lesion, it is important to maintain a positive and empowered outlook on the diagnosis and treatment plan created by the physician.