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Radiculopathy

Radiculopathy, also known as a pinched nerve, is a common ailment caused by other conditions that place pressure or stress on the nerves in the upper, middle or lower back, causing pain that radiates through the arms and legs, as well as numbness, muscle weakness, headaches and more.

Radiculopathy may be caused by:

  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease

These procedures involve malfunctions within the spinal column that result in squeezing or pressing on the nerves in the spine.

Treatment for radiculopathy usually involves conservative techniques that aim to reduce pain and relieve pressure on the nerves. In most cases, your doctor will recommend resting, taking anti-inflammatory and pain medications, and participating in physical therapy exercises to help manage symptoms. If these treatments are unsuccessful, surgery may be needed to treat the underlying condition, relieving pain and restoring function to the affected area.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease refers to the changes in the spine that take place over time, which may lead to severe pain and other symptoms, as well as conditions such as osteoarthritis, herniated disc or spinal stenosis. As we age, our intervertebral discs lose fluid and become less flexible, and may bulge, herniate or thin.

Patients with degenerative disc disease often experience back and/or neck pain, which tends to worsen with activity. Pain may radiate through the arms or legs, and may be accompanied by numbness or tingling as well.

Treatment for this condition usually involves applying ice or heat to the affected area and taking anti-inflammatory medication to help relieve pain. Some patients may require more advanced treatment, especially when degenerative disc disease progresses to a more serious condition. Surgery may be performed to remove the damaged disc.

Facet Joint Syndrome

Each vertebra has four facet joints that connect it to the vertebra above and below and allow for smooth movement of the spine. After an injury or as a result of aging, the cartilage covering these joints may wear away, causing the bones of the joint to rub together. Facet joint syndrome involves pain within the facet joints, most commonly within the lower back or neck.

Patients with this condition may experience pain or tenderness in the affected area, as well as stiffness and difficulty moving.

There are several different treatment options available for facet joint syndrome, depending on the severity of the condition and the individual patient. Conservative treatments such as correcting posture, modifying activities and taking anti-inflammatory medications are often helpful in relieving symptoms. Some patients may require surgery to destroy the sensory nerves in the joint and effectively relieve pain.

Herniated Disc

An intervertebral disc is located in between the bones (vertebrae) of the spine to provide cushioning support and flexibility within the spine. However, these discs may become damaged and may tear or move out of place. A herniated disc, also known as a ruptured or slipped disc, is a common condition that may occur as a result of gradual wear and tear on the disc or from an injury to the spine that cracks or tears the disc and causes it to bulge or break open.

Patients with a herniated disc often experience pain, numbness and weakness in the affected area as the disc presses on nearby nerve roots. Depending on the location of the affected disc, pain may radiate through the legs or arms.

Treatment depends on the location and severity of the condition, but most herniated discs can be managed through therapeutic exercises, heating pads and pain medication. Only the most severe cases will require surgery, including patients whose pain does not improve over several months.

Kyphosis

Kyphosis is a spinal condition that involves an exaggerated rounding of the upper back caused by poor posture, congenital factors or other conditions such as osteoporosis, degenerative arthritis or connective tissue disorders. This condition is most common in adolescent girls and older adults.

Patients with kyphosis have a slouching posture and may also experience back pain, stiffness, tenderness and fatigue. Mild cases may not produce any symptoms.

Treatment for kyphosis depends on the type and severity of the condition. Mild cases may only require regular monitoring and special exercises to strengthen the back muscles. More severe cases may require bracing or surgery to correct the curvature. If left untreated, kyphosis may lead to physical deformity.

Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a common childhood condition that involves an abnormal curvature of the spine. It may be present at birth or can develop later on, but the cause is unknown. Scoliosis affects about 2 to 4 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 16, and is more common in girls.

Mild cases of scoliosis may not cause any symptoms, but the condition can often be diagnosed through:

  • Uneven shoulders, hips and waist
  • Leaning to one side
  • Prominent shoulder blade

The condition can often be diagnosed simply through physical examination during a routine visit. More severe cases can cause back pain and difficulty breathing. Scoliosis can worsen during growth spurts, and is more likely to occur in young girls. The size and location of the curve may also be a risk factor for worsening.

Scoliosis does not usually worsen and can often be treated simply by regular doctor's appointments to monitor the condition. Worsening or severe cases may require treatment that can include a brace or spinal fusion surgery.

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