Disorders of the Spine
The spine, also called the back bone, plays a vital role in stability, smooth movement and protection of the delicate spinal cord. It is made up of bony segments called vertebra with fibrous tissue called intervertebral discs between them. The vertebra and discs form the spinal column from the head to the pelvis, giving symmetry and support to the body. A number of problems can affect the normal structure and function of the spine. They include
The spinal cord and its surrounding structures could become infected by bacteria or fungal organisms. The most common types of spine infections are discitis, osteomyelitis, and an epidural abscess.
Spinal injuries are the most common injuries that may occur while playing, performing normal activities, operating heavy machines, lifting heavy objects, driving automobiles, or when you suffer a fall. Common spinal injuries you may suffer include fractures, dislocation of adjacent bones, partial misalignment (subluxation) of adjacent bones, disc compression (herniated disc), hematoma (accumulation of blood), and partial or complete tears of ligaments.
Spine tumor is the abnormal growths of uncontrolled tissues or cells in and around the spinal cord. Tumors can either be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). Some of the commonly occurring benign spinal tumors are osteoma, osteoblastoma, hemangioma, and osteochondroma. Most commonly occurring malignant spinal tumors are chondrosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, lymphoma, osteosarcoma, and multiple myeloma.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a condition where chronic inflammation of the spine and sacroiliac joint results in complete fusion of the vertebrae leading to pain and stiffness in the spine. Sacroiliac joints are located in the lower back where the sacrum part of the vertebrae joins the iliac bones. Ankylosing Spondylitis is a systemic disease affecting other tissues and organs throughout the body. It can cause inflammation of faraway joints and organs such as the eyes, heart, lungs and kidneys.
Scoliosis is a condition characterized by abnormal curvature of the spine causing a deviation to one side. It causes a physical deformity making the spine look like the letter “C” or “S” instead of the letter “I”. Scoliosis can affect either the mid or the lower back but the scoliosis of the mid back is more common. Scoliosis can occur at any age. It can be classified into five categories, depending on the age group affected:
- Congenital scoliosis: The spinal deformity is already present at birth. It occurs due to an abnormality in the formation of fetal ribs and spinal bones, within the womb.
- Infantile scoliosis: It affects children below 3 years of age.
- Juvenile scoliosis: It is seen in children in the age group of 4 to 10 years.
- Adolescent scoliosis: This type of scoliosis affects teenagers and early teens
- (11 to 18 years)
- Adult scoliosis: Affects individuals above the age of 18 years.
Spinal 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. 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”. One of the causes for spinal stenosis is the ageing and other causes include Paget’s disease, achondroplasia, spinal tumors and spinal injuries. As age advances the chances of developing osteoarthritis, disc degeneration and thickening of ligaments may increase and these conditions cause spinal stenosis.
Herniated disc is a medical condition affecting the spine in which the inner central portion (nucleus pulposus) of the spinal disc is forced out through a tear in the outer, fibrous ring (annulus fibrosus) of an intervertebral disc. Herniated disc is also known as a bulging disc, ruptured disc or slipped disc.
The most common signs and symptoms of a herniated disc are:
- Disc herniation in the lower back causes back pain that radiates to buttocks and legs
- Disc herniation in the upper back causes neck pain that radiates to the shoulders and upper arms
- Numbness or tingling
- Muscle weakness