Spine trauma is damage to the spine caused from a sudden traumatic injury such as a fall, motor vehicle accident or sports injury. Trauma can cause damage to the vertebrae, spinal cord and/or nearby nerves. Injury to the spine may cause various conditions including fractures, dislocation, partial misalignment (subluxation), disc compression (herniated disc), hematoma (accumulation of blood), crushing, bruising, tearing or penetration of spinal cord tissue, brain stem stroke and partial or complete tearing of ligaments.
Back pain or backache is the pain felt in the back that may originate from muscles, nerves, bones, joints or other structures in the spine. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems experienced by most people at some time in their life. Back pain can be acute, usually lasting from a few days to a few weeks or chronic, lasting for more than three months.
The first 7 vertebral bones on the spinal column form the cervical spine and are located in the neck region. The neck bears the weight of the head, allows significant amount of movement, and is also less protected than other parts of the spine.
Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease
Cervical degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a misnomer, as it is not a disease as such but a condition that affects the strength, resiliency and structural integrity of the inter-vertebral discs due to increasing age, trauma, injury, repetitive movement, improper posture, or poor body mechanics. Cervical DDD is commonly seen in adults after 50 years of age and most of them are usually not aware about their condition until they are examined for some other health condition.
Cervical radiculopathy, commonly known as “pinched” nerve, is caused by injury to the root of a spinal nerve. It is characterized by neck pain that radiates to the shoulder and the arms. As we grow older, the spinal discs bulge and lose height. The vertebrae come closer and the disc collapses forming bone spurs in order to stiffen the spine. In this process, the bone spurs make the foramen narrow and pinch the root of the nerve. If these changes are caused as a process of ageing, the condition may be referred to as arthritis or spondylosis.
The bones in the spinal column called vertebrae surround the spinal cord and other nerves, and are cushioned by soft inter-vertebral discs that act as shock absorbers for the spine. The inter-vertebral discs are composed of a jelly-like nucleus pulposus at the center, surrounded by a fibrous ring called the annulus fibrosus. A herniated disc is a condition in which the outer fibrous annulus of the inter-vertebral disc is damaged, causing the nucleus to protrude through the ruptured annulus and compress the adjacent nerve root and/or spinal canal. A herniated disc is also known as a slipped disc or a ruptured disc. Wear and tear due to aging, repetitive strenuous movements, smoking, improper lifting and being overweight may alter the structure and function of these discs.
The spine has natural curves that alternate from top to bottom in order to better absorb the various pressures applied to it. The thoracic region of the spine has a “C”-shaped convexity; an exaggeration of which results in a condition called kyphosis. Kyphosis is characterized by an abnormal spinal curvature, which causes a physical deformity of the upper back commonly known as hunchback. Kyphosis mainly affects the thoracic spine, but sometimes the cervical and lumbar spine may also be affected as the curvature reverses from concavity to convexity.
Pseudarthrosis is an unhealed broken bone, also known as nonunion. Usually, damaged or broken bones heal over time by forming new bone tissue connecting the damaged pieces of the bone. However, if the damaged bone fails to heal then it is called ‘nonunion’ or ‘pseudarthrosis’. Pseudarthrosis refers to the formation of a false bone due to improper healing.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
The sacroiliac joint is one of the large joints in the body and is formed by the connection of the sacrum and the right and left iliac (pelvic) bones. The sacroiliac joints have small amount of movement and transmits all the forces of the upper body to the lower body. The sacrum is the triangular-shaped bone at the bottom of the spine, below the lumbar spine. The sacroiliac joint acts as a shock-absorbing structure. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction or Sacroiliac joint pain is one of the common causes of the low back pain.
Spinal stenosis is a condition caused by the vertebral column constricting and exerting pressure on the spinal cord or neural foramen (a bony tunnel through which a nerve exits the spinal cord).
Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis
Scoliosis is a medical condition characterized by an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine, either to the left or to the right. Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a type of scoliosis that occurs in children between 10 and 16 years of age. The term “idiopathic” means that the cause of scoliosis is unknown. The exact cause of idiopathic scoliosis is unknown in most of the cases, but there seems to be a genetic predisposition. The incidence is higher among girls compared to boys.
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis
Adult degenerative scoliosis is characterized by side to side or lateral bending of the spine in adults. Degenerative scoliosis can involve either the mid-back and/or lower back region of the spine.
Cervical Disc Herniation
Cervical disc herniation can arise due to aberrations of the inter-vertebral disc such as bulging, rupture and slipped or extruded disc. It results in neck, shoulder and arm pain. In some cases, disc herniation may occur due to injury, repetitive movements or degenerative disc disease (DDD). In DDD the disc strength, resiliency and structural integrity are affected due to advancing age, trauma, injury, smoking, poor diet, improper posture or poor body mechanics.
Cervical stenosis refers to narrowing of the spinal canal. Cervical stenosis causes neck pain which can radiate to the arms and hands and may also be associated with numbness or weakness of the arms. This may lead to cervical radiculopathy and cervical myelopathy. Cervical radiculopathy occurs due to injury to the cervical spinal nerves, as they exit the spinal canal. Sometimes, the excessive pressure over the spinal cord can result in spinal cord dysfunction; this condition is known as myelopathy. Myeloradiculopathy occurs when there is damage to the spinal cord as well as the nerve roots.
A compression fracture of the vertebra occurs when the bones of the spine (vertebrae) collapse. Most commonly, these fractures occur in the thoracic or the middle portion of the spine.
Lumbar Disc Herniation
Lumbar disc herniation is the most common cause of low back pain and leg pain (sciatica). The lumbar inter-vertebral discs are flat and round, present between the lumbar vertebrae and act as shock absorbers when you walk or run. There is a soft, gelatinous material in the center (nucleus pulposus), which is encased in strong elastic tissue forming a ring around it called annulus fibrosus.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Lumbar spinal stenosis is the compression of spinal nerves caused by narrowing of the spinal canal and it is one of the common causes of low back pain. Spinal stenosis can also affect the spine in the neck region.
Spondylolisthesis is the displacement of vertebral disc from the spinal column. Outward (forward) displacement is termed as anterolisthesis and inward (backward) displacement is termed as retrolisthesis. This condition is often preceded by spondylolysis, a degenerative condition of the vertebra.