The spine, a complex and vital structure that supports the entire body, is susceptible to various conditions, which in turn, limit movement and cause pain. The most common spine conditions are a result of wear and tear and aging, which cause degeneration in the various components of the spine, such as the discs.
From herniated discs to spinal stenosis, understanding and recognizing symptoms that point to spine conditions is crucial for recovery. In this article, we will talk about some of the most prevalent spine conditions, their symptoms, and available treatment options.
#1 Herniated Disc
A herniated disc occurs when the soft inner portion of a spinal disc, or the nucleus, pushes through a crack in its outer layer, compressing nearby nerves. Irritated nerves will send signals to the brain that cause you to feel any of the following: pain, numbness, weakness, or tingling that radiates down the arms or legs.
A herniated disc is also called a bulging or ruptured disc. In severe cases, a herniated disc can lead to a complication called cauda equina syndrome, which affects the bladder and bowels, causing incontinence or difficulty urinating.
A herniated disc may be treated with physical therapy, medication, epidural injections, or more advanced interventions like surgery to remove the protruding portion of the disc.
#2 Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal, which can compress the spinal cord and nerves. This type of problem commonly occurs in the lower region of the spine, called the lumbar region.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis include pain when walking, numbness in the legs, and finding that leaning forward relieves pain in the lower back.
To manage the symptoms, spine doctors may recommend physical therapy, medication, cortisone injections, or surgery to remove part of the affected spinal bone to relieve nerve compression.
#3 Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease involves the gradual breakdown of spinal discs due to wear and tear and loss of their rubbery nature. When spinal discs are damaged, they can cause symptoms such as chronic back pain, stiffness, and limited mobility of the spine.
Management strategies typically include pain medications, injections, and physical therapy to reduce pain and discomfort and strengthen support to the spine.
Sciatica is characterized by pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which extends from the lower back to the back of the legs. Patients with sciatica describe it as an electric shock and the pain from the condition can be severe. Sciatica is usually caused by a herniated disc or bone spur pressing on the sciatic nerve.
To relieve sciatica, the orthopedist may recommend cortisone injections around the affected nerve root or surgery to remove the herniated disc or bone spur.
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine, which can cause pain and mobility difficulties. Adults can develop scoliosis from degenerative conditions, such as osteoporosis.
Depending on the degree of curvature, a doctor may recommend that the patient wear a brace. If the abnormal curve becomes severe, the patient may be recommended surgery to prevent further progression and maintain spinal alignment.
#6 Arthritis of the Spine
Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint condition, can affect the spine’s facet and sacroiliac joints. The hallmark symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain and stiffness, the effect of thinning cartilage over the joint. Arthritis may also be caused by degeneration of the discs, which puts pressure on the joints.
Exercise, medications, injection therapy, lifestyle changes, and weight loss may relieve pain from osteoarthritis of the spine.
#7 Spinal Fractures
Spinal fractures can result from trauma from vehicular accidents, falls, or osteoporosis. Spine surgeons treat fractures using a brace or surgery to stabilize the bones and ensure they heal correctly. If the fracture is caused by osteoporosis, treatment for the bone disease is also prescribed.
Spine Surgeons in Hartford County, CT & Springfield, MA
Our orthopedic surgeons at Advanced Orthopedics New England are experts at treating spine conditions. If you have neck or back pain, come to us for an assessment, so you can get the right information about your condition and find out your treatment options. To schedule an appointment, call us today at (860) 728-6740 or use our online form.