MS Cognitive Issues - Spine Lesions

Everyone, Quick question. If you only have spine lesions, and have MS, could you still have cognitive issues? Or would the cognitive issues be because of medication?

How would you know you only had spine lesions? A clear MRI scan, especially with the standard .5 Tesla MRI scaners, doesn’t me there are no lesions. I think I’ve read that post-mortem studies have shown this on the Barts and the London MS blog but I haven’t any links (references). Grey matter lesions are harder to find with MRI than white matter lesions. (that’s why it was thought for a long time that MS was a white matter disease. Sorry not to have links to actual references.

I hope your neuro can help with the side effect vs MS question.

Hi folks

I had one almighty spinal lesion few years back and it did seem to cause all sorts of symptoms including memory and concentration, I was extrememly anxious at that time and do know that this can also cause cognitive problems too.

Wendy x

That’s two questions - and one big assumption.

First off, is the “spinal lesions only” thing. The late, great, rizzo, our MRI expert once said that many lesions would not show up with less than a 2.5 T scanner (and a 3 Tesla scanner was preferable). So you could have brain lesions and not know it (nor would your Neuro).

Second is the “cognitive issues” thing. What sort of cognitive isues? (and you may not want to answer that) Yes, they could be down to medication (particularly if it has hallucinogenic side effects). You can see a hint in the leaflet sometimes - “do not drive or operate heavy machinery”.

The assumption is that the spine is a one-way only system. All the sensory data, from all the nervous system sensors outside of the head, goes UP the spinal cord and get processed (and maybe rerouted) by the brain-stem. If it gets scrambled/delayed before it gets to the rest of the brain, then you could have cognitive problems. This might just show up as “balance” related (the muscle information is in conflict with the information coming in from the eyes because of timing problems), or it could be worse.

Cognition is tricky enough on its own. Neurology is tricky enough on its own. Mix them and it can get very tricky indeed - but don’t assume that they are always related.


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