Our spine contains some of the most important bones in our body. Without our spine, we wouldn’t be able to stand upright. The spine also protects our spinal cord – a central nerve cluster from which every other nerve in your body is connected.
There are many spinal issues that can develop throughout our life. Below are some of the most common spinal issues explained, including their symptoms and treatment options.
Our spine is made up of lots of small bones called vertebrae. Between each bone is a fleshy cushion known as a disk that helps prevent our vertebrae rubbing against one another.
Sometimes these disks can tear or break. This causes the vertebrae to rub together causing uncomfortable tingles or shooting pains they may run down our arms or legs. Incorrect form while lifting, being overweight and exercising too hard are things that can lead to slipped disks.
Staying active and taking over-the-counter painkillers can help relieve pain from a slipped disk. Surgery or prescription medication may not be necessary, but could be worth looking into if pain is severe.
Along with disks, there is extra slippery cartilage between our vertebrae that prevents these bones rubbing together. Over time this cartilage may wear away. This is known as osteoarthritis.
A sense of stiffness or a grinding sensation as you move your back could be a sign that you have osteoarthritis. This condition can develop naturally with age. Those who are overweight or have a family history of arthritis are more at risk.
Osteoarthritis sadly cannot be cured, however there are ways to reduce pain and make it more manageable. Exercising, quitting smoking, watching your alcohol intake and eating the right foods can all help ease inflammation.
It is possible for growths to develop in or around the spine. This can lead to back pain, walking difficulty or even loss of bowel/bladder function.
The cause of spinal tumors is unknown. Exposure to harmful chemicals could possibly put you at greater risk.
It is essential that spinal tumors are reduced or removed as they will grow and only cause further problems. Chemotherapy and surgery are two of the main ways to treat spinal tumors.
A shooting pain running down one leg from your back is typically a sign of sciatica. This is when the sciatic nerve in the back gets trapped or caught.
Sciatica can be a knock on effect of a spinal tumor or slipped disk. People who are overweight or who lift heavy objects incorrectly are at risk.
There are a range of different treatments for sciatica ranging from physical therapy to painkilling injections. Talk to a doctor about your options.
Whiplash is caused by a sudden back and forth motion of the head. This damages muscles and ligaments in the neck, leading to neck pain.
The most common cause of whiplash is a car accident. However, whiplash can also occur when playing sports or dancing – anything that involves moving your head sharply.
Whiplash can go away if you rest your neck. This could mean avoiding activities like driving or playing sports that require you to turn your head quickly.
Abnormal twisting or curvature of the spine is known as scoliosis. This typically results in people walking with one shoulder raised and their head to one side, as well as causing pain and stiffness.
Scoliosis is believed to be largely hereditary, however injuries or botched back surgery may also cause this condition to develop.
There are many ways to deal with scoliosis pain. Curing scoliosis is not always possible, however wearing a brace may prevent this condition getting worse.
Kyphosis is a curvature of the spine that causes people to walk with a hunched back. This can cause pain across the back and shoulder blades.
Poor posture can increase the risk of developing this condition. If you walk with a stoop you may want to consider correcting this to prevent you from developing kyphosis later in life.
There are medical treatments available for kyphosis but they are not possible for everyone. It is worth talking to a doctor to see what they recommend.