10 Common Spine Condition
- Back pain is one of the most common health issues Americans face, with over 30 million people, of all ages, suffering annually.
- Back pain is also the leading cause of disability globally, it’s the number one reason why people miss work, and it can happen to anyone.
- Spine issues are some of the leading causes of back pain.
- One of the most important parts of preventing pain is knowing what causes it. Patients who are interested in improving their spine health and preventing or reducing spine pain are encouraged to learn more about 10 of the most common spine conditions.
Condition #1: Osteoarthritis of the spine
Osteoarthritis is a chronic medical condition that causes the cartilage that make up a joint to slowly wear away. It can affect any joint in your body, including the facet joints in your spine. Because the facet joints allow the spine to bend, flex and extend, patients who have facet joint arthritis have pain that is associated with movement. Facet joint arthritis that reaches severe stages can cause the cartilage that protects the joints to completely wear away. This causes bone-on-bone rubbing that can be extremely painful.
Condition #2: Spinal Stenosis
The spinal canal is a structure that is formed when the vertebrae of the spine are perfectly aligned. In a healthy spine, the spinal cord runs interrupted through the spinal canal. The nerve roots of the spinal cord branch out and innervate the muscles and organs of the body. Spinal stenosis is a condition characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal and subsequent pinching or compressing of the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. Patients who have spinal stenosis may experience pain in the spine and/or extremities.
Condition #3: A Herniated Disc
The intervertebral discs are one of the most important structures of the spine. The discs rest between adjacent vertebrae and prevent them from compressing or rubbing against each other. A diseased or damaged disc can lose water content and easily herniate or slip. When this happens, the disc can protrude into the spinal canal and pinch or compress the spinal cord or nerve roots. Pain in the spine and/or extremities can be experienced. The discs of the lumbar spine (lower back) are those that most commonly herniate.
Condition #4: Sciatica
The largest nerve in the body is the sciatic nerve. Sciatica, which is also called sciatic nerve pain, refers to irritation of the sciatic nerve. The key symptom of sciatica is pain that originates in the lower back and runs down the buttocks, back of the thigh and below the knee. The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc.
Condition #5: Lumbar Strain
The lower back is responsible for bearing the majority of the weight of the upper body. Lower back pain can be caused by strains and sprains due to overuse, muscle imbalances or improper lifting techniques.
It can also be caused by more serious medical conditions such as those described above. Lower back pain that does not resolve on its own should always be seen by an Orthopedic Spine Specialist.
Condition #6: Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is one of the most common spine issues in older adults. It refers to weakened bones due to a lower bone mass. Weakened bones in the spine become brittle and damaged, which can lead to fractures, collapsed vertebrae, and a hunched posture.
It can be hard to tell your bones are becoming weaker because there aren’t many symptoms that occur until the bones are already osteoporotic. You can try to avoid this by maintaining a healthy diet filled with calcium and vitamin D rich foods to help strengthen your bones.
Exercise like walking, running, and weightlifting can improve your balance, posture, and bone health.
Condition #7: Compression Fracture
With age and weakening bones, various cracks and hairline fractures can occur in the vertebrae. If there are many of these cracks in your spine, it could result in a compression fracture, also called a collapsed vertebra.
This mostly happens because of osteoporosis, but you’re also at risk if you have bone cancer, if you smoke, if you’re very thin, and if you’re a woman over 50.
Fractures can be extremely painful; pain medications can help manage the pain. Physical therapy is another common treatment.
Condition #8: Spinal Myelopathy
Spinal myelopathy is when the spinal cord becomes damaged because of degeneration. What that means in English is that as you get older, the components of your back and spine change and become weaker, which can lead to spinal damage.
This can lead to pain, numbness of hands and feet, muscle weakness, loss of balance, and tingling. Surgery can help prevent the progression and worsening of symptoms.
Condition #9: Whiplash
Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a sudden jerking or motion of the head. This sudden and awkward movement of the neck can strain the neck muscles. It can also damage intervertebral joints, discs, and ligaments in the neck.
After the event or the trauma, many people don’t feel symptoms right away. It can take 24 hours to begin feeling whiplash symptoms, which include:
- Neck pain
- Stiff neck
- Lower back pain
- Difficulty concentrating
You can treat the pain with pain relievers like Advil or Aleve. Icing can help in the first 24 hours after injury. Other methods of treatment include massage, physical therapy, and heating pads.
Condition #10: Spondylolisthesis
The vertebrae of the spine are kept in particular positions. Spondylolisthesis is when one of the vertebrae of the spine slides forward and over the vertebra below it.
This can cause severe pain as it can damage or squeeze the spinal cord. It can also cause you to lose feeling in your limbs, lose bladder control, and make it difficult to walk.
Surgery can help severe cases, but usually, symptoms are managed with physical therapy, weight loss, pain medications, and core strengthening exercises.
Wrapping Up the Top 10 Most Common Spine Issues
Back pain is a serious issue that can incapacitate people for days, weeks, and even years. These 10 spine issues are some of the most common; hopefully, this can help you understand whatever back pain you’re experiencing.