Back pain is the most frequently reported ailment to physicians and other health care providers in the United States. It can be caused by poor posture, injury, excessive weight and congenital deformities, or it may be part of an individual’s normal aging process. Sometimes the offending problem can be spotted on x-ray imaging or MRI, and other times, physicians are unable to pinpoint an exact source of the discomfort. Following are the most common spinal conditions that are seen in medicine.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Changes in the vertebral discs can be caused by arthritis, which makes the discs dry, thin and hard and can be exacerbated by the stress of excess weight and poor posture. An injury to the spinal column can also accelerate the degenerative process. The symptoms that result from degenerative disc disease include pain, numbness and tingling from compressed nerves. A common treatment for degenerative disc disease that does not respond to conservative methods is lumbar artificial disc replacement.
The most common congenital spinal condition involves abnormal curvatures. As the curve increases, it can cause an unnatural stress on the vertebrae and discs, which can result in injury and pain. Different types of curvature abnormalities include:
- Scoliosis which is a lateral curve and is frequently diagnosed in early adolescence
- Kyphosis that refers to a “humpback” or outward curve in the upper back
- Lordosis which describes an outward curve of the lumbar spine
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal becomes narrower due to the development of bone spurs, the thickening of connective tissue, the breakdown of discs and/or the deterioration of facet joints. It usually occurs during the aging process and can cause pain, numbness and tingling especially down the legs. Most incidences occur in the lumbar region of the spine and can be corrected through decompression surgery of the back.
Breaks in the vertebral column can happen from injury or may occur as a result of a weakened structure as seen in osteoporosis. Fractures may be small and asymptomatic, or they can cause pain by pressing on nerves due to spinal shift.
Bulging and Herniated Discs
The normal aging process can cause the intervertebral discs to bulge or break out of the natural line of the spinal column and press on nerve roots, which can result in pain and other symptoms such as numbness and tingling. Bulging and herniated discs can also be caused by an injury incurred from twisting, an accident, poor posture and heavy strain.
If you are living with a spinal condition that prevents you from enjoying the activities you love, reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Our Beverly Hills spine surgeons are led by Medical Director Dr. Hyun Bae, providing patients with a wealth of options for treating pain from conservative methods such as physical therapy to minimally invasive surgical procedures. To schedule an in-person consultation, call 310-828-7757 today.