Cervical Spine Anatomy
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 vertebrae 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.
Thoracic Spine Anatomy
Thoracic spine is the central part of the spine, also called as dorsal spine, which runs from the base of the neck to the bottom of your rib cage. The thoracic spine provides flexibility that holds the body upright and protects the organs of the chest.
Lumbar Spine Anatomy
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.
The spine, also called the back bone, is designed to give us stability, smooth movement, as well as providing a corridor of protection for the delicate spinal cord. It is made up of bony segments called vertebrae and fibrous tissue called intervertebral discs. Disc protrusion, also called herniated disc, is a condition caused by a tear in an intervertebral disc allowing the disc contents to bulge out.
The first 7 vertebral bones on the spinal column form the cervical spine and are in the neck region. The neck bears the weight of the head, allows significant amount of movement, and less protected than other parts of spine. All these factors make the neck more susceptible to injury or other painful disorders. Common neck pain may occur from muscle strain or tension in everyday activities including poor posture, prolonged use of a computer and sleeping in an uncomfortable position.
The neck is made up of seven tiny bones called cervical vertebrae (C1-C7). These are protected by spongy vertebral disks present between them and supported by ligaments that hold them together and surround the underlying spinal cord. Cervical fractures are common in motor vehicle accidents, sports activities and falls. The second, sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae are frequently involved in fractures, and may also injure the spinal cord.
Herniated disc (Cervical)
Herniation of a disc is an anomalous spine condition characterized by leakage of the inner contents of the intervertebral disc, due to cracks in its outer wall. Herniated disc is commonly seen in the cervical or neck region, a condition called cervical herniated disc (CHD). CHD is followed by arm or neck pain that may arise due to compression of the spinal nerves by the protruding disc material. This condition is frequently reported in people between 30-40 years of age as well as elderly people.
Cervical spine refers to neck portion of spine, and cervical spine conditions may result from overuse injuries, trauma and certain diseases. Cervical stenosis refers to narrowing of the spinal canal that protects the spinal cord and its branching nerves. The condition causes neck pain radiating to arms and hands, numbness or weakness in the legs.
Cervical Disc Protrusion
Cervical disc protrusion, commonly known as disc bulge occurs when the spinal discs and associated ligaments are intact, but may form an outpouching that will press on the spinal nerves. This condition causes pain in the neck, shoulder and the arms. Usually, the symptoms include a dull, aching, or sharp pain in the neck or the shoulder blades. Sometimes, the pain may radiate along the arms to the hands and fingers.
Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck, usually caused by sudden forceful jerk commonly occurring because of an automobile accident, sports injuries, or an accidental fall. Sometimes whiplash may also be referred to as neck strain, neck sprain or hyperextension injury.
Cervical Degenerative Disorder
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 intervertebral 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.
Fracture of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine
The backbone is made of small bones arranged from the neck region down to the buttocks, one above the other. The region at the chest and lower back are called the thoracic and lumbar spine, respectively. These are the two regions commonly affected by a fracture and frequently occur due to high-velocity accidents, falls from a height or a violent blow. They may also occur in cases of osteoporosis or a tumor where the bone is weakened.
Back pain is a common condition affecting approximately 80% of the population at some point in their lives. The area usually affected is the lower back (lumbar region) as it bears most of the upper body’s weight. Pain in the lower back may sometimes radiate to the legs. This is referred to as lumbar radiculopathy or sciatica. Lumbar radiculopathy can be extremely debilitating and interfere with your daily activities.
Low Back Pain
Low back pain can be disabling; however, most cases heal with time (2-12 weeks) and with conservative therapy. Surgery is suggested when symptoms persist and begin to affect daily activities. Low back surgery may be indicated for treating various underlying causes of back pain such as spinal fractures, degenerative disc disease, nerve compression, stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), tumors, infection, instability or bowel and bladder difficulties.
Herniated disc (Lumbar)
Herniated disc is a condition in which the outer fibers (annulus) of the intervertebral disc are damaged causing the soft inner material of the nucleus pulposus to rupture out of its space. A herniated disc, common in the lower back (lumbar spine) occurs when there is a tear in the outer lining of the disc (annulus fibrosus). This causes the inner jelly-like material (nucleus pulposus) to leak out and place pressure on the adjacent spinal nerve root.
Lumbar 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. Spinal stenosis can also affect the spine in neck region. The symptoms includeback 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.
Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease
Lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a common cause of low back pain. The vertebrae are cushioned by intervertebral discs which act as shock absorbers, for the spine. Over time, these natural shock absorbers wear out and degenerate due to aging, trauma or injury leading to DDD. Degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease but refers to the changes in the spine that occur as a part of the normal aging process.
Lumbar Disc Herniation
Lumbar disc herniation is the most common cause of low back pain and leg pain (sciatica). The lumbar intervertebral 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.
Spondylolysis is a stress fracture of vertebra that may progress into spondylolisthesis, a condition of displacement of vertebrae from the spinal column. Spondylolysis is the cause for frequent low back pain in children. It is more common among children and teenagers who participate actively in sports such as football, weightlifting and gymnastics.
Vertebral Compression Fractures
Back pain is an indication of stress fractures known as vertebral compression fractures. Vertebral compression fractures occur when the normal vertebral body of the spine is squeezed or compressed to a smaller height. The bone collapses when too much pressure is placed on the vertebrae, resulting in pain, limited mobility, height loss, and spinal deformity. In very severe compression fractures the back of the vertebral body is pushed into the spinal canal and pressure is placed on the spinal cord.
Spine trauma is damage to the spine caused from a sudden traumatic injury caused by an accidental fall or any other physical injury. Spinal injuries may occur while playing, performing normal activities, operating heavy machines, lifting heavy objects, driving automobiles, or when you suffer a fall. Injury to spine may cause various conditions including fractures, dislocation, partial misalignment (subluxation), disc compression (herniated disc), hematoma (accumulation of blood) and partial or complete tears 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 few days to few weeks, or chronic lasting for more than three months.
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.
The Spine or backbone provides stability to the upper part of our body. It helps to hold the body upright. It consists of series of irregularly shaped bones appearing in a straight line. The spine has two gentle curves, when looked from the side and appears to be straight when viewed from the front. When these curves are exaggerated, pronounced problems can occur such as back pain, breathing difficulties, and fatigue.
Facet joint Arthritis
Facet joints, also called zygapophyseal joints are located at the back of the spine which connects the vertebrae together. There are two joints between each pair of vertebrae located on either side of the spine. The facet joints provide stability for the spine.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) refers to gradual deterioration of the intervertebral discs between the vertebrae. DDD is a misnomer as it is not actually a disease but a condition that affects the strength, resiliency and structural integrity of the intervertebral discs due to advancing age, trauma, injury, repetitive movement, improper posture, or poor body mechanics. DDD is commonly seen in individuals over 50 years of age. Most of them are usually not aware about their condition until they are examined for some other related health condition.
Piriformis Syndrome is an uncommon rare neuromuscular condition caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle. The sciatic nerve is a thick and long nerve that passes below or through the piriformis muscle and goes down the back of the leg and finally ends in the feet in the form of smaller nerves.
The spine forms natural curves at the neck, torso and lower back, which allows it to absorb shock and hold the weight of the head. When this curvature is accentuated at the lower back, it is a condition called lordosis. Lordosis may develop during childhood as a benign condition, or may develop later in life because of poor posture, osteoporosis, obesity, discitis (inflammation of the intervertebral discs) or spondylolisthesis (mal-alignment of the vertebrae).
Non-surgical treatments for spine conditions
Cervical/lumbar traction is a therapy that stretches the spine to relieve pressure on compressed nerves and stretch tight muscles, to treat back and neck pain. It may also be used for realigning the spine in cases of dislocation. Traction may be performed manually or mechanically (with the use of weights and pulleys).
Nutrition and your Spine
Nutrients are the chemical components present in food which provide energy for carrying normal physiological functions and aid in metabolic processes of the body.
Medications play an effective role in the treatment of back or neck pain. Your doctor may prescribe several medications to help reduce pain and associated symptoms that are caused by unhealthy spinal conditions or deformities.
Possible Complications of Spinal Surgery
The most serious complication of a herniated disc that may occur before surgery is the development of the cauda equine syndrome. It occurs when a large particle of disc material is ruptured into the spinal canal. It occurs in the area where the nerves that control the bowels and bladder travel before they leave the spine. This causes pressure on these nerves resulting in permanent damage.
Your surgeon may recommend a few specific post-operative instructions following spinal surgery. You should follow the instructions of the surgeon to aid in faster recovery with optimum results. The duration of hospitalization depends on the treatment rendered.
Dysfunction of the spine can be severely debilitating to one’s ability to perform activities at both home and work. Pain in the lumbar spine (lower back) is the number one reason for missed days of work, followed by pain of the cervical spine (neck) as the second.
Healthy Back Tips
Back and neck pain are the most common health problems experienced by most people, at some point of their lives. People with back pain or neck pain may have trouble in performing daily routine activities.
Lifting heavy weights and improper lifting of weights is one of the foremost causes for neck pain or lower back pain. Practicing proper lifting techniques is essential to avoid strain on the neck and back.