Vocabulary of Spinal Cord Conditions

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  • 0:03 The Spinal Cord
  • 0:56 Myel/o
  • 1:56 Radicul/o
  • 2:49 Multiple Sclerosis
  • 3:34 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will define terminology associated with medical conditions that affect the spinal cord and nearby structures: myelitis, myelosis, poliomyelitis, multiple sclerosis, radiculitis, and cervical and lumbar radiculopathy.

The Spinal Cord

There's one very thin, small, light, and inexpensive thing in your home that if I were to damage, destroy, or take from you, would cause you a lot of pain. Care to guess what it is?

It's your smartphone's cord. Admit it, you depend on it like water. The cord that charges your phone carries signals to and from your phone and to an outlet or a computer. Without it, that phone and all of its precious capabilities wouldn't work very well, would they?

That cord functions like, and in some ways is even structured similarly to, the spinal cord, which carries signals to and from your brain from the rest of the body so things can work properly.

But, sorry to say, there are a lot of conditions that either affect the spinal cord directly or involve the spinal cord and nearby structures. Conditions which make it difficult for people to live their lives properly. Let's go over some of the vocabulary related to this


So, I'm going to group the first set of terms by the combining form of 'myel/o', which means, in this lesson's context, the spinal cord (although it can also mean bone marrow).

The first term using this combining form is called myelosis. Myelosis is the formation of a tumor of the spinal cord; '-osis' is a suffix that means there is some abnormal condition.

Myelosis might be confused with myelitis, but they're nowhere near the same. Myelitis has the suffix of '-itis', which means inflammation. So, knowing all of this, it's not hard to imagine that myelitis is literally the inflammation of the spinal cord.

To make sure you don't get confused between the two terms, remember that the 'i' in 'i'tis stands for 'i'nflammation.

And to further reinforce this, think of the disease polio, which is the shortened term for poliomyelitis, a contagious viral disease that causes paralysis and death. The 'polio' in poliomyelitis refers to gray, as in the gray matter of the central nervous system.


The next group of conditions related to the spinal cord involve the combining form of 'radicul/o', which refers to nerve roots, as in spinal nerve roots.

Radiculitis should be pretty easy to define given the fact that you know what the suffix of 'itis' means. Radiculitis is the inflammation of the root of a spinal nerve.

Radiculitis causes the person pain. And two other conditions that are associated with pain and nerve roots are called cervical and lumbar radiculopathy, where '-pathy' means disease.

Cervical radiculopathy is nerve pain stemming from the disturbance of nerve function as a result of the compression of the nerve roots near the cervical or neck vertebrae.

Lumbar radiculopathy is nerve pain resulting from the compression and irritation of nerve roots in the lumbar or lower back region.

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