Any spine-related problem can be very debilitating, impacting your sleep, mobility, and quality of life.
Fortunately, there are a wide number of solutions to help ease back pain or a lack of flexibility in the spine, helping people resume their normal lives.
In this article, we will discuss a range of spine problems and their solutions, from the treatment you can do at home, to prescribed medications, and possibly even surgery.
What Will We Learn?
Common Spine Problems
Below is a summary of ten spine problems a person could suffer from, regardless of their age.
- Muscle Strains – Hyperextending a muscle or maintaining bad posture can result in muscle strain, causing pain and tightness in the back. Obesity can also increase the likelihood of muscle strain in the back.
- Herniated Discs – The soft tissue that sits in between the vertebrae are known as discs. These discs can sometimes rupture, bulging out of their outer casing and coming into contact with nerves and the spinal cord. Herniated discs often occur as people get older and the disc begins to degenerate, however, it can also be caused by an injury, such as one suffered when playing sports or in a car accident.
- Whiplash – Whiplash is a neck injury that is caused by a sudden and excessive jerking motion, straining the muscles, ligaments, discs, or joints. The effects of whiplash are usually not noticed immediately and the symptoms may take 24hrs to become apparent.
- Sciatica – The sciatic nerve is the biggest nerve in the body, running from the lower back and down the legs. When this nerve is compressed, perhaps by a herniated disc or bone spur, a person may experience pain, weakness, and numbness.
- Scoliosis – Scoliosis is an abnormality of the spine, usually a curvature, and in some cases can be very severe. It usually affects children and adolescents and can cause a person’s skeleton to be misaligned. The common solutions to this issue are wearing a back brace, physical therapy, and surgery.
- Osteoarthritis – Arthritis refers to the inflammation of the joints and can affect the vertebrae as well as hands, knees, and limbs. This happens when the joints and the connected cartilage deteriorate, causing pain and potentially damaging the surrounding nerves.
- Fractures – Hairline fractures and cracks in the vertebrae can happen as a person grows older or if they have suffered an injury. Referred to as a compression fracture of collapsed vertebra, these injuries can be very painful. They are often caused by osteoarthritis or osteoporosis and can be common among smokers or someone suffering from bone cancer.
- Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is also more common among people in their advancing years and happens when the bones weaken over time due to reduced bone mass. These bones can then become brittle, potentially leading to a fracture. Taking vitamin D can help prevent this condition.
- Spondylolisthesis – Spondylolisthesis is when a vertebra slips out of place and comes into contact with the adjacent vertebra. This can be very painful and cause damage to the spinal cord. Other symptoms include numbness of the limbs and possible loss of bladder control.
- Stenosis – Stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal and often occurs in the lower back and neck. This narrowing means the pressure is applied to the nerves and spinal cord, and a laminectomy may be required to ease the pressure.
Self-Administered Treatments For Back Issues
There are a number of ways a person can improve their back health and tackle an array of spinal conditions before medical attention is required.
These self-administered treatments include:
- Maintaining movement by taking a daily 30-minute walk
- Stretching to improve muscle strength. Yoga and pilates are highly recommended
- Maintain good posture by sitting up straight when using a computer
- Dieting to maintain a healthy weight
- Stop smoking as this can cause the vertebrae to deteriorate
- Use muscle creams to ease swelling and inflammation
- Apply ice or heat packs to ease the pain
- Try over-the-counter medication such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Take vitamins and minerals for a more balanced diet
- Lay a rolled-up towel under your pelvis when lying down to reduce tension
Medical Treatments For Spine Conditions
If you have tried a range of treatments at home but your spine condition or issue has not improved then it is advised to seek a medical consultation to assess the problem. Once the issue has been diagnosed, your doctor can then recommend various treatments to help stop the pain and improve the health of your spine and its various components.
For example, the treatment of spondylolisthesis can include pain-killing steroid injections and physical therapy. A physical therapist can help to strengthen a person’s back and preserve flexibility, providing long-term spine health if followed up by regular exercise.
Surgery For Spine Conditions
If treatment fails to improve the condition of a person’s back and ease the symptoms, then the next course of action is usually surgery. However, many traditional surgeries have their drawbacks, while 20-40% of back operations prove unsuccessful – this is known as failed back surgery syndrome.
Spinal surgery can help to cure conditions such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, vertebral fractures, and degenerative disc disease. In the case of a herniated disc, a laminectomy (decompression surgery) and a discectomy are usually performed together. To support this surgery, the patient may also undergo spinal fusion surgery.
Unfortunately, spinal fusion surgery limits the movement in a person’s spine, stopping the patient from performing a range of motions. As well as this, the fused area can also cause damage to the adjacent bones over time.
As a modern alternative, many people now favor a mechanical implant device such as the TOPS System instead of spinal fusion. This is because such devices recreate the natural movement of vertebrae, ensuring the patient keeps full motion in the back, providing stability, and also curing them of pain and other symptoms.
A TOPS System is the perfect choice for anyone suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis, as the implant is designed for use at a single level between the vertebrae L2 to L5.
Thank you for reading. We hope this article has offered some insight into the spine problems a person can encounter and how they can be resolved.
See also: Drug Test On Period