Spinal Stenosis

What is it?

The spinal canal is the passageway where the spinal cord and nerve roots reside. Spinal stenosis results when the canal is narrowed. The narrowing may result from disc protrusions or herniations, thickening of the ligaments within the canal, movement of the vertebral bodies or osteophytes (bone spurs) protruding into the canal.

Causes

Can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired. Acquired spinal stenosis is more common and generally affects people 60 or more years of age.

Signs & Symptoms

Persistent pain in the buttocks, limping, and lack of feeling in extremities, loss of bladder or bowel control. Often patients have difficulty walking even relatively short distances because of leg symptoms of pain or weakness.

Diagnosis

Following physical examination, MRI, CT scan or myelogram studies may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. EMG studies may be performed if there is question for nerve damage.

Nerve Pain (Radiculopathy)

What is it?

Nerve roots are branches of the spinal cord that carry signals out to the rest of the body at each level along the spine. When direct pressure is applied to these roots, radicular symptoms occur.

Causes

The nerve roots may become compressed as a result of a herniated disc, bone spur, or degenerating vertebrae.

Signs & Symptoms

Numbness, tingling, weakness in the arms or legs.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis begins with a complete physical examination. X-Rays may be used to show bony anatomy of the spine. A MRI or CT scan will show more detail.

Herniated Disc

What is it?

The discs that sit between the bones of our spine (vertebrae) are made up of a tough outer layer that surrounds a jelly-like substance in the center. A herniated disc occurs when the inner layer breaks through the outer layer tissue. This material may compress the nerves, causing nerve related symptoms.

Causes

A common injury, may occur from even a small everyday activity.

Signs & Symptoms

The most frequent symptom of a herniated disc is pain in the lower back radiating into one or both legs. If the cervical spine is affected pain radiates from the neck into one or both arms.

Diagnosis

X-Ray may be done initially, but diagnosis will be confirmed with a MRI study.

Scoliosis

What is it?

All spines have some curves that are normal; scoliosis is an abnormal curvature, when the spine curves to the side, sometimes having an “S” shape.

Causes

The cause is unknown. Scoliosis can appear in otherwise healthy children or adolescents. It occurs in approximately 2.5 out of 100 children. Currently, there are no known measures to prevent it from occurring.

Signs & Symptoms

Often times, scoliosis does not produce any symptoms and it may be found during a routine physical examination. If the curve becomes severe, it can be visible by the parents and may cause back discomfort in the child.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made by physical examination with the child bending over to touch their toes, measurement of the curvature, and also X-Ray studies.

Degenerative Disc Disease

What is it?

Spinal discs are soft, compressible discs that separate the vertebra that make up the spine. They act as shock absorbers for the spine, allowing it to flex, bend, and twist.  As we age, our discs can wear down.

Causes

Aging and activities.

Signs & Symptoms

Pain in the back that spreads to the buttocks and upper thighs.

Diagnosis

X-rays can be used to verify a decrease in height of space between vertebrae, bone spurs, or facet enlargement. MRI studies will confirm the diagnosis and provide further detail.

Spondylolisthesis

What is it?

Abnormal alignment of the spine as a vertebral body slides forward relative to the one below it.

Causes

Can be congenital (present at birth) or develop as a result of physical stress to the spine from physical activity, trauma, and general wear and tear.

Signs & Symptoms

Neck or back pain depending on the level affected. If spinal cord or nerve roots are affected, arms and legs may also experience symptoms.

Diagnosis

X-Ray will show abnormal alignment of the vertebrae.

97% of our spine patients have been able to resolve their pain without surgical intervention.

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