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A to Z of neurological topics

In this section we feature information on a number of tests, treatments and conditions, with links for more information either within this website or on external sites where possible. If you can't find what you're looking for, you may wish to speak with one of our Helpline team who may be able to answer your questions. Send an email to [email protected] or call free on 0808 808 1000.

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    A large triangular bone found at the bottom of the spine.



    A term that can be used to described a type of tumour that develops from bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other types of connective or supportive tissue.



    A type of tumour that affects nerves and develops from the lining that surrounds them. 


    See our Spinal tumours booklet



    An abnormal ‘sideways’ curve in the spine.


    Useful links:

    Scoliosis Association (UK)



    A burst of electrical activity in the brain that temporarily affects how it works. They can cause a wide range of symptoms including changes in behaviour and sudden, uncontrolled body movements.


    See our Epilepsy fact sheet

    Sexual dysfunction


    Difficulty experienced by an individual or couple during sexual activity, including problems with physical pleasure, desire, preference, arousal or orgasm.


    See our Relationships and sex article


    Useful links:

    Sexual Advice Association



    A device that is used to move a body fluid, such as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), from one place to another.


    See our Hydrocephalus and shunts fact sheet

    Speech and language therapist


    A specialist health professional that assesses, plans and treats people with communication and swallowing problems.

    Speech problems


    Useful links:

    Stroke Association

    Talking Point

    I CAN

    Communication Matters

    Spina bifida


    Spina bifida is a congenital condition where the spinal column and the spinal canal don’t completely close up before birth.


    Useful links:


    SBH Scotland

    Spina Bifida Association (USA)

    Spinal canal


    The space formed by the unique shape of the bones of the spine, the vertebrae, that runs down through the spinal column and through which the spinal cord passes.

    Spinal cord


    The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends from the brain to the lumbar section of the spine, and is situated in the spinal canal.

    Spinal injury


    Useful links:

    American Spinal Injury Association


    Backup Trust

    Multidisciplinary Association of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals

    Spinal Injuries Association

    Spinal muscular atrophy


    A progressive genetic condition that affects the nerves in the body and causes muscle wasting.


    Useful links:

    The SMA Trust

    Spinal strokes


    A spinal stroke is a disruption to the blood supply to the spinal cord, which can cause damage to tissues and can lock messages travelling along the spinal cord.


    See our Spinal strokes fact sheet

    Spinal tumours


    See our Spinal tumours booklet



    A spondylolisthesis is when a vertebra in the spine is out of place in relation to the one above or below. This can result from injury to the spine or a degenerative condition, but in rare cases it is present from birth.



    A type of fracture that can occur in the spine.



    Spondylosis is a medical term that describes degenerative changes that occur in the vertebrae of the spine. These changes may be due to advancing age and are sometimes described as ‘wear and tear’of the bones in the spine, or they may be the result of previous injuries or other existing conditions that affect the spine.



    A stroke is a disruption to the blood supply to a part of the brain, which causes damage to brain cells by starving them of oxygen. A lack of blood flow can be caused by a blockage in a blood vessel, or can be due to a bleed occurring. The symptoms will depend on what area of the brain has been affected by the lack of blood flow.


    See our Stroke fact sheet


    Useful links:

    Stroke Association

    Different Strokes

    Subarachnoid haemorrhage

    (sometimes abbreviated to SAH)


    A type of stroke that is caused by bleeding on the surface of the brain. The bleed leaks in to a space called the subarachnoid space, which is a space between two of the three protective layers (the meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord.


    See our Subarachnoid haemorrhage booklet

    Subdural haematoma


    A subdural haematoma is a collection of blood between the skull and the surface of the brain. It can occur following a head injury, and can cause headaches, nausea and vomiting, confusion, drowsiness, mood changes and loss of consciousness.



    A fluid filled cavity within the brainstem.



    A fluid filled cavity within the spinal cord.


    Useful links:

    The Ann Conroy Trust

    American Syringomyelia Alliance Project Inc



    A fluid-filled cavity found within the spinal cord or brainstem.