5 Most Common Spine Disorders Explained

Struggling with flare-ups or constant back pain? You’re not alone. In fact, almost 65 million Americans are dealing with back problems.

Unfortunately, not many people realize the “aches” they’re dealing with are often a symptom of a spine disorder.

Spine disorders are more common than people realize. The pain can get so intense that you might miss work or develop a disability. In fact, health care costs due to back pain reach over $12 billion every year.

Instead of letting the pain linger, keep reading.

By reviewing this guide, you can determine whether or not it’s time to visit a doctor. Discover four common posture and spine disorders today!

1. Herniated Disc

If you’re experiencing chronic back pain and think you have a cervical spine disorder, visit a doctor. They’ll start by completing a physical examination. They might also order imaging for your spine.

For example, your doctor might request a CT scan, MRI, or a chiropractic xray. They could also use nerve conduction studies, bone scans, and myelography to determine the issue.

It’s possible you have a herniated disc. Herniated discs are also referred to as:

  • Bulging
  • Ruptured
  • Slipped
  • Prolapsed
  • Compressed

Sometimes, the cushioned discs between your vertebrae can rupture. These discs are responsible for absorbing shocks when you move. The discs are tough on the outside but soft and gelatinous within.

Symptoms

When the discs rupture, the gelatinous substance leaks. This can cause weakness, back pain, and sciatica. Other common symptoms include:

  • Pain that reaches the arms or legs
  • Numbness
  • Pain that gets worse when you stand, sit, or walk short distances
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain that worsens with certain motions
  • Tingling, aching, or burning sensations
  • Pain that gets worse at night

Let your doctor know if you experience these symptoms.

Causes

You might develop a herniated disc if the outer ring becomes weak or torn. Otherwise, certain movements, like twisting and turning to lift an object, can cause it. Age can become a factor as well.

Some people are at a higher risk because of their weight. A sedentary lifestyle or muscle weakness can play a part, too.

Treatment

Your doctor might suggest a surgical course of action for treatment. However, an exercise program can help strengthen your back and the surrounding muscles as well.

Otherwise, your doctor might suggest an over-the-counter medication, muscle relaxer, or narcotics.

2. Whiplash

There are many spine disorders you can develop after you’re in a car crash, including whiplash. Whiplash occurs when your head and neck snap forward and back.

Symptoms

As you review these spine disorders, make sure to keep track of your symptoms. Common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Arm and pain weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shoulder pain and stiffness
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Jaw pain

Depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress syndrome can occur as well.

Causes

You can develop whiplash even when your car isn’t moving. If another vehicle hits yours from behind, it could cause your neck to jerk forward. The sudden movement can cause your neck to hyperextended backward.

You can also develop this injury from contact sports and physical abuse.

Treatment

You might need to wear a neck collar to support your neck. If your pain persists, you might need a cervical collar instead. Prolonged immobilization, however, won’t help you heal.

Instead, you can use range of motion exercises to increase blood flow to injured soft tissues.

Physical therapy and pain relief medication can ease your pain as well.

3. Spinal Stenosis

About 540 million people worldwide suffer from low back pain at any time. In fact, low back pain is among the top five reasons people visit the emergency room. Lower back pain could indicate you’re suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis.

Cervical stenosis affects the neck while lumbar spinal stenosis affects the lower back. This condition develops as the spinal column begins to narrow.

Symptoms

You might not notice symptoms right away if you develop spinal stenosis. Some common symptoms include pain or weakness in the legs. You might experience numbness or tingling as well.

Some people experience balance issues or have trouble walking. Paralysis can occur if the condition progresses.

Causes

You could develop spinal stenosis from a car crash, sports injury, or trauma. Cervical spine disorder, or scoliosis, can cause it as well.

Treatment

Some anti-inflammatory medications can reduce the pain. Your doctor might suggest cortisone injections instead.

Exercise and chiropractic manipulation are ideal forms of treatment, too. Otherwise, you might need to look into surgical options.

4. Degenerative Disc Disease

As you discuss common spine disorders with your doctor, you might need to consider degenerative disc disease. This condition is also known as osteoarthritis of the spine.

Sometimes, the gelatinous substance within your discs breaks out. A protrusion of the disc and bone spur can form as a result.

Symptoms

This condition primarily impacts the lower back. However, you can also feel pain in your legs, neck, arms, and buttocks.

The pain might get worse when you sit, twist, or bend over.

Some people with degenerative disc disease notice less pain when they walk or exercise.

Causes

Degenerative spine disorder occurs when your spinal discs experience too much wear and tear. They’ll dry out as a result, which leads to reduced function.

With that in mind, age becomes a factor.

This condition is also caused by sports injuries and accidents. A sedentary lifestyle and obesity are both risk factors.

Treatment

Your doctor might suggest over-the-counter medications to ease your pain and inflammation. Prescription pain relievers can help if your pain is more intense.

Otherwise, use heat or cold therapy at home to reduce your inflammation.

Physical therapy and exercise can help strengthen your back muscles.

If these methods don’t ease your pain, your doctor might recommend artificial disc replacement or a spinal fusion.

Don’t Break Your Back: 4 Common Spine Disorders That Are Often Undiagnosed

Don’t let your back pain get worse. Instead, visit your doctor and discuss these spine disorders. They can help you get on the right track with your treatment.

Otherwise, leaving your back pain undiagnosed could lead to serious health complications.

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About the Author: Jacob Wyatt