Spinal Conditions

Cervical Disc Herniation

Neck pain is extremely common. It can be caused by many things, and is most often related to getting older.

Like the rest of the body, the bones in the neck (cervical spine) slowly degenerate as we age. This frequently results in arthritis. Arthritis of the neck is called cervical spondylosis.

Cervical spondylosis is the degeneration of the joints in the neck. It becomes increasingly more common as people age. More than 85% of people over age 60 are affected.

Although it is a form of arthritis, cervical spondylosis rarely becomes a crippling or disabling type.
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Congenital Scoliosis

Congenital scoliosis is defined as a curvature of the spine that is the result of malformations of the vertebral elements. The fact that the spine and spinal column ever form correctly is amazing given the complexity of the process from the embryological standpoint. Most of this development happens during the 3rd-6th week in utero (after conception). In spite of the opportunities for error, congenital malformations are relatively rare. Doctors think about congenital scoliosis in three groups: failures of formation, failures of segmentation, and combinations of these defects.
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Degenerative Disc

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is part of the natural process of growing older. Unfortunately, as we age, our intervertebral discs lose their flexibility, elasticity, and shock absorbing characteristics. The ligaments that surround the disc, called the annulus fibrosis, become brittle and they are more easily torn. At the same time, the soft gel-like center of the disc, called the nucleus pulposus, starts to dry out and shrink. Degenerative disc disease is as certain as death and taxes, and to a certain degree this process happens to everyone.
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Herniated/Ruptured Discs

When people say they have a “slipped” or “ruptured” disk in their neck or lower back, what they are actually describing is a herniated disk-a common source of pain in the neck, lower back, arms, or legs.
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Idiopathic Scoliosis

Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis in North America, affecting up to 2 % of the population. It’s usually caused by an adolescent growth spurt. In order for a physician to diagnose and treat idiopathic scoliosis, he or she must first rule out all other causes of scoliosis. Most idiopathic curves present in adolescence are painless, gradual, have a typical curve pattern (for example, a right thoracic curve), and the neurological exam is normal. Idiopathic scoliosis is much more common in females.
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Kyphosis

Kyphosis or hunching over is normal in the thoracic spine. If you look at your child from the side, you will notice that there is a curve in the upper back where they are “hunched over”, and a curve in the lower spine (“sway back”). However, when kyphosis is greater than 50 degrees, it becomes easy to see and is considered abnormal. Most parents will attribute this to “poor posture”, but become concerned that despite their persistent reminders, their child will not stand up straight.
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Lumbar Disc Herniation

When people say they have a “slipped” or “ruptured” disk in their neck or lower back, what they are actually describing is a herniated disk-a common source of pain in the neck, lower back, arms, or legs.
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Lumbar Stenosis

A common cause of low back and leg pain is lumbar spinal stenosis.

As we age, our spines change. These normal wear-and-tear effects of aging can lead to narrowing of the spinal canal. This condition is called spinal stenosis.

Degenerative changes of the spine are seen in up to 95% of people by the age of 50. Spinal stenosis most often occurs in adults over 60 years old. Pressure on the nerve roots is equally common in men and women.

A small number of people are born with back problems that develop into lumbar spinal stenosis. This is known as congenital spinal stenosis. It occurs most often in men. People usually first notice symptoms between the ages of 30 and 50.
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Myelopathy

Myelopathy is a term that means that there is something wrong with the spinal cord itself. This is usually a later stage of cervical spine disease, and is often first detected as difficulty walking due to generalized weakness or problems with balance and coordination. This type of process occurs most commonly in the elderly, who can have many reasons for having trouble walking or problems with gait and balance. However, one of the more worrisome reasons that these symptoms are occurring is that bone spurs and other degenerative changes in the cervical spine are squeezing the spinal cord.
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Neuromuscular Scoliosis

The term “neuromuscular scoliosis” is used to describe curvature of the spine in children with any disorder of the neurological system. Common categories include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophies, spinal cord injuries and so forth. Most of these children have as a unifying feature weakness of the trunk. As they grow and their trunk gets weaker, there is a progressive, collapsing deformity of the spine producing a long, c-type curve.
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Radiculopathy

Usually, when something hurts, you do not have to look far to find the source of the pain. But an injury near the root of a nerve can result in pain at the end of the nerve where sensation is felt. For example, an injury to the vertebrae or disks in your neck (cervical vertebrae) can result in pain, numbness, or weakness in your shoulder, arm, wrist, or hand because the nerves that extend out from between the cervical vertebrae provide sensation and trigger movement in these areas. This condition is called cervical radiculopathy.
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Sciatica

If you suddenly start feeling pain in your lower back or hip that radiates to the back of your thigh and into your leg, you may have a protruding (herniated) disk in your spinal column that is pressing on the roots of the sciatic nerve. This condition is known as sciatica.
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Spinal Fractures

As we get older, our bones thin and our bone strength decreases. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become very weak and more likely to break. It often develops unnoticed over many years, with no symptoms or discomfort until a bone breaks.

Fractures caused by osteoporosis most often occur in the spine. These spinal fractures — called vertebral compression fractures — occur in nearly 700,000 patients each year. They are almost twice as common as other fractures typically linked to osteoporosis, such as broken hips and wrists.

Not all vertebral compression fractures are due to osteoporosis. But when the disease is involved, a vertebral compression fracture is often a patient’s first sign of a weakened skeleton from osteoporosis.
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Spondylolisthesis

The most common cause of low back pain in adolescent athletes that can be seen on X-ray is a stress fracture in one of the bones (vertebrae) that make up the spinal column. Technically, this condition is called spondylolysis (spon-dee-low-lye-sis). It usually affects the fifth lumbar vertebra in the lower back and, much less commonly, the fourth lumbar vertebra. If the stress fracture weakens the bone so much that it is unable to maintain its proper position, the vertebra can start to shift out of place. This condition is called spondylolisthesis (spon-dee-low-lis-thee-sis). If too much slippage occurs, the bones may begin to press on nerves and surgery may be necessary to correct the condition.
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Sprains and Strains

Most acute pain in the back results from sustaining a mild strain in the back or back musculature. Sprains and strains in your lower back usually happen during a sudden and stressful injury, causing stretching or tearing of the muscles, tendons, or ligaments in your lower back. When you strain or sprain your lower back it causes a lot of stress on your spine, irritating it. If you have this condition you may also suffer from painful muscle spasms which can occur during your daily activities or at night while you’re sleeping. The pain is usually limited to five or ten days.
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