Conditions

 

Several conditions can lead to or worsen back, leg, and neck pain.

Click on the condition below to learn more about it.

Cervical Disc Degeneration

Overview

Degeneration of the cervical disc occurs as we age. Injury, daily wear and tear, and genetics also contribute to this process. Degeneration consists of damage to the cervical disc, which may then become narrowed or may herniate. This causes symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness in the arms or shoulders, and may also cause neck pain. The available treatments are directed at these symptoms and do not represent a cure for the degenerative process.

Symptoms

  • Neck pain
  • Pain, numbness, or tingling in the arms or shoulders
  • Weakness in the arms or shoulders

Cervical-segment-300x228

Degenerative Scoliosis

Overview

Adult degenerative scoliosis is a condition where a right-left or lateral curve develops in a previously straight spine secondary to advanced degenerative disc disease. This curvature occurs as a result of deterioration (or degeneration) of the disc space and joints in the back of the spine. As the joints degenerate they create a misalignment in the back, resulting in a bend or curvature. This misalignment of the spine can cause back and/or leg pain due to muscle fatigue and nerve impingement and may lead to a condition known as lumbar (lower back) stenosis. Adult degenerative scoliosis is more common in the lower back and most frequently occurs in people over 65 years of age.

Symptoms

  • Pain in the back and/or legs
  • Spinal deformity
  • Pain may occur on one or both sides
  • Pain that worsens when standing or walking
  • Lying down relieves pressure on the spine and reduces pain
  • Uneven shoulders or waist
  • Shoulder blade protrusion

Diagnosing Adult Degenerative Scoliosis

Your doctor will perform a physical examination to identify areas of pain and weakness and will evaluate your balance and the overall movement of your spine. Your doctor will also collect information about the history of your symptoms, including medicine you have taken for your condition. After your examination, your doctor may use tests to help establish his or her diagnosis. Some of these tests include X-ray, CT (computed tomography) scan, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Together, all of these techniques help to confirm a diagnosis of adult degenerative scoliosis.

Degenerative Spondylolisthesis

Overview

Spondylolisthesis (spon-di-loh-lis-thee-sis) is a condition where one vertebra has slipped forward over another one below it. This misalignment typically occurs as a result of advanced degenerative disc disease, stress fractures, or congenital abnormalities, and in rare cases from a tumor or trauma. Degenerative spondylolisthesis is a consequence of the aging process in which the bones, joints, and ligaments in the spine grow weakened and become less able to maintain the alignment of the spinal column. This type of spondylolisthesis typically occurs at one of two levels in the lumbar spine:

  • L4-L5 (most common)
  • L3-L4

Degenerative spondylolisthesis is more common in people over age 50 and, in particular, among individuals over age 65. Women are two to three times as likely as men to be diagnosed. Spondylolisthesis can cause impingement of the nerves and/or fatigue of the back muscles and may result in lower back and/or leg pain.

Symptoms

  • Lower back and/or leg pain
  • Sciatica, an aching pain in the hips, buttocks, and lower back that radiates (spreads) into the back of the thighs and legs
  • A shuffling gait when walking
  • Weakness in the lower extremities
  • Abnormal posture

Diagnosing Spondylolisthesis

Your doctor will perform a physical examination to identify areas of pain and weakness and will evaluate your balance and the overall movement of your spine. Your doctor will also collect information about the history of your symptoms, including medicine you have taken for your condition. After your examination, your doctor may use tests to help establish his or her diagnosis. Some of these tests may include X-ray, CT (computed tomography) scan, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Together, all of these techniques may help to confirm a diagnosis of spondylolisthesis.

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease

Overview

Lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD) is defined simply as the wear and tear of the intervertebral disc, which may result from normal aging or be due to longstanding trauma. It involves small tears in the annulus of the disc (elastic outer ring of collagen fibers) and lack of water content of the nucleus of the disc (soft gel center). The degenerative cascade can lead to disc bulging, development of bone spurs (or osteophytes), and loss of disc space height and/or alignment, which can cause nerve impingement. DDD can also lead to degenerative instability, the loss of the ability of the spine under physiologic loads to maintain its pattern of normal movement due to disc degeneration.

Symptoms

  • Pain at the site of the injury
  • Pain, numbness, or tingling in the legs
  • Strong pain that tends to come and go
  • Pain is worse when bending, twisting, and/or sitting
  • Lying down relieves pressure on the spine

Diagnosing Degenerative Disc Disease

Your doctor will perform a physical examination to identify areas of pain and weakness and will evaluate your balance and the overall movement of your spine. Your doctor will also collect information about the history of your symptoms, including medicine you have taken for your condition. After your examination, your doctor may use tests to help establish his or her diagnosis. Some of these tests include X-ray, CT (computed tomography) scan, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Together, all of these techniques help to confirm a diagnosis of lumbar DDD.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Overview

Degenerative or age-related changes in our bodies can lead to compression of the nerves (pressure on the nerves that may cause pain and/or damage).  Lumbar spinal stenosis is a gradual narrowing of the space where nerves pass through the spine, and may be a result of aging and wear and tear on the spine from everyday activities (i.e., degenerative disc disease) and/or resultant positional changes of the vertebrae.

Symptoms

  • Decreased endurance during physical exercise and activities
  • Weakness and/or loss of balance
  • Numbness and a “prickly” feeling in your legs, calves, or buttocks
  • Aching, dull back pain radiating (spreading) to your legs
  • Symptoms improve when you sit, lean forward, lie on your back, or sit with your feet raised
  • Neurogenic claudication

Diagnosing Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Your doctor will perform a physical examination to identify areas of pain and weakness, and will evaluate your balance and the overall movement of your spine. Your doctor will also collect information about the history of your symptoms, including medicine you have taken for your condition. After your examination, your doctor may use tests to help establish his or her diagnosis. Some of these tests include X-ray, CT (computed tomography) scan, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Together, all of these techniques help to confirm a diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis.

Learn More

Intro to the Spine

The spinal column is made up of 33 bones, called vertebrae, which stack one on top of another with intervertebral discs.
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General Pain

Back pain can be felt constantly or intermittently, and may present as a dull, sharp, piercing, or burning sensation.
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Emotional Support

Chronic back, leg, and neck pain isn’t just a physical challenge but an emotional one as well.
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