The incidence of back pain has drastically increased. Approximately 90% of Americans experience back pain at different stages of their life. In America, the annual expenditure for the treatment of back pain is approximately $50 billion. Back pain is not a disease; rather it is a symptom due to an underlying pathology.
The cervical spine comprises of the first 7 vertebrae. It supports the weight of the head and allows its smooth movement. Neck pain refers to pain or discomfort resulting from abnormalities or injuries to any of the structures in the neck including the muscles, ligaments, nerves, bones and vertebral joints. Neck pain is one of the most common health problems experienced by individuals, at some point of their lives.
Scoliosis is a condition where the spine or back bone is curved sideways instead of appearing in a straight line. It can occur in all ages, but commonly occurs in children before puberty, during their growth spurt.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is a condition where the intervertebral disc, the gel-like material between the vertebrae, has begun to wear out due to aging, repetitive stress, smoking, injury, formation of bone spurs or obesity.
Lumbar stenosis is the compression of spinal nerves caused by narrowing of spinal canal and it is one of the common causes of low back pain. Spinal stenosis can also affect the spine in neck region. The symptoms include back pain, burning or aching type of pain in buttocks that radiates to the legs (sciatica), weakness in the legs or “foot drop”.
Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease
Cervical degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a misnomer as it is not a disease as such but a condition that affects the strength, resiliency and structural integrity of the intervertebral discs due to increasing age, trauma, injury, repetitive movement, improper posture, or poor body mechanics.
Spondylolisthesis is the displacement of vertebral disc from the spinal column. Outward (forward) displacement is termed as anterolisthesis and inward (backward) displacement is termed as retrolisthesis. This condition is often preceded by spondylolysis, a degenerative condition of the vertebra.
Spondylolysis is a stress fracture of vertebra that may progress into spondylolisthesis, a condition of displacement of vertebrae from the spinal column. Spondylolysis is the cause for frequent low back pain in children. It is more common among children and teenagers who participate actively in sports such as football, weightlifting and gymnastics.
The term ankylosis stands for loss of mobility of the spine, whereas spondylitis means inflammation of the spine. Therefore, ankylosing spondylitis is a condition where chronic inflammation of spine and sacroiliac joint, results in complete fusion of the vertebrae leading to pain and stiffness in the spine. Sacroiliac joints are present in the lower back where the sacrum part of the vertebrae joins the iliac bones.
Vertebral compression fractures occur when the normal vertebral body of the spine is squeezed or compressed. The bone collapses when too much pressure is placed on the vertebrae, resulting in pain, limited mobility, loss of height, and spinal deformities. In severe compression fractures the vertebral body is pushed into the spinal canal which will apply pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
The spine has natural curves that alternate from top to bottom in order to better absorb the various pressures applied to it. The thoracic region of the spine has a “C”-shaped convexity; an exaggeration of which results in a condition called kyphosis. Kyphosis is characterized by an abnormal spinal curvature, which causes a physical deformity of the upper back commonly known as hunchback.
The bones in the spinal column called vertebrae surround the spinal cord and other nerves, and are cushioned by soft intervertebral discs that act as shock absorbers for the spine. The intervertebral discs are composed of a jelly-like nucleus pulposus at the center, surrounded by a fibrous ring called the annulus fibrosus.
Facet Joint Arthritis
Facet joints, also called zygapophyseal joints, are located at the back of the spine which connects the vertebrae together. There are two joints between each pair of vertebrae located on either side of the spine. The facet joints provide stability for the spine.
Spine trauma is damage to the spine caused from a sudden traumatic injury such as a fall, motor vehicle accident or sports injury. Trauma can cause damage to the vertebrae, spinal cord and/or nearby nerves. Injury to the spine may cause various conditions including fractures, dislocation, partial misalignment (subluxation), disc compression (herniated disc), hematoma (accumulation of blood), crushing, bruising, tearing or penetration of spinal cord tissue, brain stem stroke and partial or complete tearing of ligaments.
The spinal cord and its surrounding structures can become infected by bacteria or fungal organisms. Risk factors that can make you more susceptible to these infections include older age, smoking, obesity, malnutrition, weakened immune system, infection with HIV virus, diabetes and cancer.
Cervical spine refers to neck portion of spine, and cervical spine conditions may result from overuse injuries, trauma and certain diseases. Cervical stenosis refers to narrowing of the spinal canal that protects the spinal cord and its branching nerves. The condition causes neck pain radiating to arms and hands, numbness or weakness in the legs.
Spina bifida is the most common birth defect which is known as neural tube defect that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Most commonly it occurs in the first month of pregnancy because of incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings.