Spine Archive: Ataxia

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This condition is characterized by the loss or lack of muscle movement. Sometimes this can be seen observed in a person’s walk or “gait”. This condition can be present on one side of the body (referred to as hemiataxia). Ataxia can be a result of hereditary disorders involving spinal degeneration and is often associated with the cerebellum, within the brain.

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Diagnosis & Treatment of SCA

Ataxia can be onset by certain factors including but not limited to alcoholism, stroke, tumors, metabolic disorders, multiple sclerosis, vitamin deficiencies, and neuropathy. There are many types of SCA even though the symptoms are similar. Genetic testing can determine the gene that can assist in the identification in the type of SCA the patient has. In addition, the test can help determine additional carriers in the patient’s family.

Currently, there is not a known cure for SCA. However, the underlying condition is often treatable. For example, an ataxia that is brought on by a metabolic disorder can be treated through medications and a monitored diet plan. There are also a wide variety of medications that can treat body movement issues like gait. With careful monitoring by a neurologist, the patient’s symptoms can be lessened.

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Causes & Symptoms of SCA

SCA is not a gender-specific disorder. Males and females can inherit a defective gene. There are a wide range of gene mutations on various chromosomes that can cause Spinocerebellar Ataxia. Because of this, it is hard to pinpoint the frequency of the genes associated.

Patients who have SCA will develop issues with coordination early on. Often times this is characterized by abnormal hand or eye movement, speech impairment, and difficulty walking. This ataxia, or loss of body motion will also cause failure of control of the arms and legs. The result will often lead to patients having irregular movements including issues with general body movement and gait.