The spine, or backbone, runs from the pelvis to the skull. It serves as the central pillar of the body that bears and distributes the weight of the body. Comprised of many bones stacked on top of one another, the spine is divided into three distinct regions: lumbar, thoracic, and cervical.
The spine is a remarkable work of engineering and design, but it’s also susceptible to injury, deformity, or disease like any other part of the body. Let’s take a look at some of the most common afflictions of the spine.
Back Pain: The Common Symptom
The most common symptom of any spinal disorder is back pain, due to the very sensitive makeup of the musculoskeletal system with numerous bones, muscles, joints, and nerves involved. Back pain is debilitating and can curtail most activities.
The intervertebral discs act as a shock absorber between vertebrae. A common analogy exists that likens a disc to a jelly donut. Any damage causes the inside to leak out and this causes a disc herniation. A lack of exercise, twisting while lifting, or lifting too much weight can all contribute to or cause a herniated disc – as well as certain postures while sitting or driving. The aging process can cause degenerative disc disease, which is also a cause of herniated discs.
When a bone becomes brittle as a person ages, it can fracture under normal stress. Brittle bones are often caused by an underlying condition such as osteoporosis or metastatic tumors. When a compression fracture occurs, the patient notices a sudden onset of severe pain. Minimally invasive techniques have been developed to aid in a faster, better recovery. The collapsed vertebrae are re-augmented with artificial bone material, which offers faster relief and return to daily activities.
Facet syndrome is responsible for nearly 40 percent of all back pain. The condition affects the small intervertebral joints in the spine. It causes pain when the facets degenerate and affect the cartilage surrounding the joint. The production of synovial fluid that lubricates the facet joints is affected, creating bone-on-bone rubbing, bone spurs, increased pain, and a reduction in spinal flexibility.
Spinal stenosis causes a narrowing of the canal that runs inside the vertebrae, resulting in increased pressure and pain. Causes for the condition vary, but genetic factors play an important role in the diameter of the canal – resulting in narrowing and increased compression of the spinal cord. A progressively degenerative disease, spinal stenosis typically affects people over 60, causing increased pressure on the legs, and pain when standing upright.
This disease occurs when vertebrae slip out of alignment with the spine, either forward or backward, affecting the normal curvature of the spine. Some congenital factors have an effect on the progression of this disease, as does traumatic injury or spinal surgery. Marked by weakness and pain in the legs, this condition makes walking and standing very difficult.
Comprehensive Spine Care in Colorado
For expert orthopedic care no matter which spine disorder may afflict you, call Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery at (303) 790-1800 or schedule your appointment online today.