Relief for common causes of neck and back pain
Neck pain, back pain and other symptoms caused by spine conditions can have a devastating impact on your life. Everyday activities that were once simple, from preparing a meal to working in the yard, can become difficult or even impossible. If you are living with chronic pain related to a spine condition, it’s important to stay positive and proactive as you seek relief because there are effective treatments that can return you to an active lifestyle.
USA Spine Care is committed to helping people get their life back from pain and we believe patient education is a key step on that journey. Our dedicated and highly skilled treatment team has decades of combined experience treating patients dealing with the major conditions affecting the spinal column. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a specific condition or are researching potential causes of pain before seeking medical attention, please take some time to read the following overview.
Spinal anatomy basics
The spine is one of the most important structures in the body. Not only does it support the upper body and head, but it also protects the spinal cord as it travels from the brain to the rest of the body. This main conduit of the central nervous system is responsible for sending sensory and motor information everywhere nerves travel, enabling us to move and feel.
To perform these essential functions, the spine must be both very flexible and very strong. That is why the spinal column is made of a stack of interconnected tubular bones called vertebrae that are linked by joints known as the facet joints. Cushioning the vertebrae are rubbery spinal discs made out of cartilage and filled with fluid.
The back of each vertebrae has an arch made out of bone that together form the spinal canal that actually protects the spinal cord. As it travels down the back, the spinal cord branches off into nerve roots that exit out both sides of the spine through narrow openings in the spinal canal called foramina.
The 24 main vertebrae are divided into three primary sections:
- Cervical spine — The upper region in the neck, consisting of the first seven vertebrae, labeled C1–C7.
- Thoracic spine — The middle back, consisting of 12 vertebrae that are fixed to the rib cage, labeled T1–T12.
- Lumbar spine — the lower back, consisting of five large vertebrae, labeled L1–L6. In rare cases, some people have a sixth lumbar vertebra.
Beneath the lumbar region are the sacrum and coccyx, which consist of an additional nine vertebrae that are fused to form the base of the spine at the pelvis.
How spine conditions develop
Painful spine conditions and injuries develop largely due to the tremendous amount of stress we put on the spine during everyday activities, combined with natural age-related changes. As we stand, walk, run, jump, bend, twist and climb, the spinal column absorbs the weight of the upper body onto a flexible structure. Over time, the joints and discs that absorb much of this pressure begin to dry out and become less able to perform their basic function.
While these changes are normal and happen to everyone to some degree, for some people it can contribute to a number of painful conditions that affect the spinal discs, joints and nerve pathways. These spine conditions can become particularly difficult to live with when displaced anatomy puts pressure on spinal nerves, causing painful neuropathic symptoms.
Our experts treat a full range of painful spine conditions
At USA Spine Care, our orthopedic experts specialize in treating the following conditions that affect the spine:
- Annular tear — This is a tear to the outer layer of a spinal disc, called the annulus fibrosus. While not always painful, annular tears can irritate local nerves or potentially develop into a herniated disc.
- Arthritis of the spine — This is painful inflammation affecting the spinal facet joints, leading to aches, stiffness, nerve pain, and development of bone spurs that can compress surrounding nerves.
- Bone spurs — Also known as osteophytes, these are bony growths that develop due to increased bone on bone contact, often as a result of arthritis. Bone spurs can cause spinal narrowing and nerve compression.
- Bulging disc — A bulging disc can occur when the outer layer of a spinal disc becomes brittle and loses elasticity, causing it to bulge out of its normal position in the spinal column.
- Canal stenosis — Spinal stenosis is a term for narrowing in the spine, with canal stenosis specifically being narrowing in the central spinal canal that results in spinal cord compression.
- Collapsed disc — A collapsed disc is a degenerative spinal disc that has lost its height causing the spinal column to compress/
- Degenerative disc disease — This is a broad term describing the natural breakdown of spinal discs due to age-related changes. Degenerative disc disease (DDD) can contribute to many other disc conditions, including bulging and herniated discs.
- Degenerative joint disease — Basically another term for age-related arthritis, or osteoarthritis of the spine, this condition develops due to natural wear on joint cartilage that causes inflammation of spinal facet joints.
- Degenerative spine — A very broad term describing the effects of aging on the spine that leads to conditions such as DDD and spinal arthritis.
- Disc extrusion — Disc extrusion is when the soft interior of a spinal disc pushes out through a tear in the outer layer. Often used interchangeably with herniated disc.
- Disc protrusion — This is when a disc protrudes out of its normal place in the spinal column, which can cause painful nerve compression. Often classified as a type of bulging disc.
- Facet disease — Facet disease is another term for spinal arthritis, or age-related breakdown of the facet joints that connect the vertebrae.
- Facet syndrome —This is essentially another term for spinal arthritis, specifically describing a number of common symptoms that people with facet disease experience, such as aches, pains and stiffness.
- Failed back surgery syndrome — Failed back surgery syndrome, or FBSS, is a condition that results from complications related to an unsuccessful spine procedure. Often associated with traditional open back surgery performed in a hospital setting.
- Foraminal narrowing — This is narrowing, or stenosis, of the openings between vertebrae that allow nerve roots to exit the spinal canal.
- Foraminal stenosis — Another term for foraminal narrowing and a common form of spinal stenosis.
- Herniated disc — When the soft interior of a spinal disc pushes out through a weak spot or tear in the outer layer. Can result in painful nerve compression.
- Herniated nucleus pulposus — Another term for a herniated disc, describing the inner layer, or nucleus pulposus, pushing through the outer layer.
- Pinched nerve — A term for spinal nerve compression caused by any number of conditions, including bulging and herniated discs or bone spurs.
- Prolapsed disc — A prolapsed disc is sometimes used as an alternate term for a herniated disc and describes the inner disc prolapsing through the outer layer.
- Sciatica — The sciatic nerve branches out of the lower spine and gives movement and sensation to the lower body. Compression of this nerve in the spine can cause debilitating pain.
- Scoliosis — Scoliosis is abnormal curvature of the spine. While most common in adolescents due to unknown causes, scoliosis can also develop due to age-related degeneration.
- SI Joint Pain — The sacroiliac, or SI joint, connects the pelvis to the sacrum, and pain can develop here due to the natural aging process.
- Spinal narrowing — Also known as spinal stenosis, spinal narrowing can cause painful nerve compression due to displaced spinal anatomy.
- Spinal stenosis — Spinal stenosis is a broad term for narrowing in the spinal column due to a wide range of factors.
- Spondylitis — This is a rare condition with unknown causes that in its most severe form can result in fusion of spinal vertebrae.
- Spondylolisthesis — Also called vertebral slippage, spondylolisthesis is when a vertebra becomes loose and begins to slip out of its normal position.
- Spondylosis — Spondylosis is a very broad term describing age-related changes to spinal anatomy that cause painful symptoms, especially spinal arthritis.
- Torn disc — Another term for an annular tear, a torn disc is when a tear develops on the outer layer of a spinal disc.
Learn more about USA Spine Care Treatments for neck and back pain today
At USA Spine Care, our ultimate mission is to be the leader in effective treatments for the full spectrum of spinal and orthopedic conditions. We provide minimally invasive spine surgery, as well as conservative treatment options such as physical therapy and therapeutic injections. By working with each patient to deliver individualized care plans, we can help people achieve the outcome that is right for their treatment and lifestyle goals.
Contact us today to learn more. Call toll free 1-866-249-1627.