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Spinal Inflamation and Numbness

  I am submitting this inquiry on behalf of a friend.  He has experienced
  numbness (partial to complete loss of sensation) throughout parts of his
  body in the following progression over the past 8 months:
  1) Initially, the left arm (from shoulder to fingers)
  2) Then, it encompassed the entire left side of his body from shoulder
  to toes (excluding neck and face).  This division between left and right
  side was completely pronounced.
  3) Recently, he has recovered some sensation from his left leg, but now
  experiences numbness on the right leg.  So, currently his numbness is
  primarily left arm and right leg.
  He has undergone the following tests:
  1) MRI scan
  2) CAT scan
  3) Test for MS
  4) Spinal tap
  The results of these tests have indicated an inflamation of the spinal
  cord (I belive the C3/C4 area).  The test for MS was negative and the
  other tests showed no positive sign of lesions near or within the brain.
  The only other "occurance" which preceeded this condition was a minor
  automobile accident in which his back was injured.
  Are there any known afflictions which conform to this pattern of symptoms?
  Are there any known cases of spinal cord inflamation which could result
  either directly or indirectly from physical injury to the spine?
  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
  Best Regard,
The first thing which would come to mind in this case would be MS, the
finding of this patch of inflammation in his cervical cord would certainly
explain some of the symptoms and is totally compatible with a diagnosis of
I presume that by saying the tests for MS were negative you were referring
to the tests on spinal fluid or evaked potential tests, unfortunately
negative results in these tests do not necessarily outrule the dignosis so
it must still remain a possibility.
Since inflammation was discovered this cannot be due to trauma from the
accident alone, there are situations in which a reaction to a viral
infection can trigger a transient episode of inflammation of the spinal cord.
This condition is known as acute disseminated encephalomyelitis ADEM, but
the recurrent nature of the symptoms is more in keeping with MS than a
once-off type of reaction.
If his symptoms do not subside I would suggest repeat testing in a few
months time as tests which have earlier been negative may subsequently
yield diagnostic results.
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