Caused by damage to a spinal disc, degenerative disc disease can cause moderate to severe pain, depending on the type of damage experienced. Tears in the outer layer of a disc may create severe pain, as nerves are affected. Damage to the core of a disc, where proteins may leak and touch nerves and tissues, can create tenderness and swelling of the disc, which causes pain. Once damaged, a disc will not repair itself. Pain can be chronic or intermittent, and treatment varies according to the patient's unique needs.
Chronic back pain can be debilitating, and may be cause by many factors, from muscle strain to injury to a deformity of the spine. Chronic lower back pain may also be associated with a systemic illness or a rheumatic disease.
Spinal Rheumatoid Arthritis
Affects the hinged facet joints of the spine that are located between the vertebrae of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine. Because rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, the body's immune system attacks the coating of the facet joints, called the synovium, which can lead to cartilage damage and can cause stiff, swollen, painful, and damaged joints and weak spinal muscles and ligaments.
When the body does not form new bone at a proper rate, or when old bone is resorbed by the body, osteoporosis occurs. Usually, osteoporosis progresses gradually, and a patient will be unaware of the condition until a fracture happens or a bone density test reveals the disease. The spine is a common site of fracture due to stress and physical forces. When a fracture occurs, the disease is advanced.
Most cases of scoliosis are not serious and require regular monitoring of the back for signs of progression. Approximately ten percent of cases progress, and when this occurs, treatment is based on the degree of the curvature. An orthopedic brace can be used to prevent the curve from getting worse. In the most severe cases, the curve may need to be corrected surgically.
Injury, wear and tear from aging, or from disease can cause discs to bulge or to rupture. A herniated disc creates pain as pressure is put onto the nerve roots or the spinal cord, creating pain, numbness or chronic discomfort that may radiate to other parts of the body, like the neck, legs, shoulders, arms or chest, depending on which nerves are affected.
Car accidents, falls, head injuries, and injuries caused by blunt force can create significant spinal trauma. Our neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons are on call 24/7 to deliver care to patients who need immediate emergency care for spinal injuries.
When tumors originate in the spine they are usually benign. However, most spinal cord cancers are metastatic or secondary cancers that have spread to the spine from a primary cancer site, such as the lung, breast, prostate, head and neck, or other region. Working together with oncologists, neuroradiologists, neuro-oncologists and other specialists at The David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center our neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine specialists provide the most advanced care for tumors of the spinal cord.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the passage where the spinal cord runs. When the spinal canal is narrowed, pressure is put on nerves inside and can cause chronic or severe leg pain. Stenosis usually affects the lower back (lumbar stenosis), but can sometimes affect the cervical spine (cervical stenosis), as well. Diseases including scoliosis osteoporosis, arthritis and lordosis may contribute to development of spinal stenosis for some patients. For others, poor posture, degenerative disc disease, age and obesity can also be risk factors.
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