Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a clear liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. It helps cushion the brain, transports nutrients and waste products, and controls the chemical environment of the central nervous system. It is located within the subarachnoid space, an area between two of the three membranes that encase the brain, spinal cord, and cauda equina.
Cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the brain and along blood vessels found in the subarachnoid space. Because the body produces much more CFS than it needs each day, most of it is believed to be reabsorbed through sinuses within the brain. Another theory says it is reabsorbed through the lymphatic system.
The level of protein and glucose present within the cerebrospinal fluid has proven to be a useful tool in diagnosing several disorders of the nervous system, including:
- Brain tumors
- Cerebral hemorrhage
- Brain abscess
- Other viral diseases
Cerebrospinal fluid also is a component of arachnoid cysts, which are pockets of CFS that can form within the subarachnoid space. Occasionally, the growth of these cysts impinges or irritates nerve roots along the spinal cord, producing radiculopathic symptoms similar to those produced by conditions such as herniated disc, bulging disc, spinal stenosis, foraminal stenosis, and others. An MRI or CT scan can reveal the origin and location of these symptoms, which normally can be treated conservatively using physical therapy, pain medications, or exercise.
If you experience chronic neck or back pain, consult your physician for diagnosis. If weeks or months of conservative treatment prove inadequate, your doctor might present surgery as an option. Laser Spine Institute (LSI) offers a gentle, endoscopic alternative to traditional open back surgery. Contact LSI to learn more and for a free review of your MRI or CT scan.